Telehealth is getting a lot of attention right now as Coronavirus has affected how medical services are provided. This blog will focus on the concept of telehealth as it pertains to mental health therapy sessions. There are various terms used to describe the concept of telehealth. It is sometimes referred to as “telemedicine” or “teletherapy,” but regardless of what it’s called, the concept includes therapy sessions being conducted over video conferencing with the client in one location and the therapist in another.
Is it as effective as in-person therapy?
This is one of the most common questions in the minds of potential clients when deciding if telehealth is right for them. There is an emerging body of research on this topic, and the findings are consistently concluding that yes, telehealth is as effective as in-person therapy.
What are the benefits?
You can do therapy from the convenience of your home, office, or other environment that works for you. All you need is access to a computer with internet access or a smart phone.
There is no travel time. You don’t have to commute to your therapist’s office and can save the time.
Your therapist might get a better sense of you as a person. If you’re in your home, office, or other space you value, the environment may become a topic of conversation that provides insight for your therapist.
You get to be comfortable. By staying at home you get to settle into your favorite chair or even your bed. You can wear your pajamas. You can grab a cup of tea, coffee, or other tasty beverage.
You can work with a therapist in a different city (but same state-see below). This broadens your options for therapists, and as a result, increases the chances of you finding a good fit.
How do you actually do telehealth?
There is a variety of video conferencing options therapists can utilize to conduct telehealth. Our practice uses a platform called Doxyme for sessions. Doxyme is designed to be HIPPA secure and protect the privacy of clients. The process is very straightforward. I send a link to my clients by email or text, and all they need to do is click on the link using a computer or phone with internet access. I am notified my client is ready to start, and I click a button on my end to initiate the session. At that point we can see and hear each other on our respective screens. The experience is similar to Facetime or Skype.
Telehealth and State Laws
This is a tricky area to say the least, and it’s gotten even more convoluted as states have been suspending telehealth laws to help ease the impact of Coronavirus.
When it comes to telehealth, therapists are able to conduct sessions with clients in states where the therapist holds a license and the client is physically present at the time of sessions. I am licensed in Colorado, so I can see clients who reside anywhere in this state. If I was contacted by a potential client who lives in Florida wanting to do telehealth, I do not have a license in the state of Florida, so I would not be able to work with the client. However, if I live in Colorado, but held a license in Florida, then I would be able to work with the client. Some states make exceptions to the licensing issue. For example, if I start working with a client in Colorado, and the client moves to Illinois, Illinois grants permission for me to continue to see that person via telehealth even though I’m not licensed in that state.
The vast majority of states require therapists to hold a license in the state where the client is physically present without exception. If you have any questions if you would be able to work with a particular therapist who is in a different location than you, give the therapist a call or shoot them an email as the situational factors are different in every case. The therapist can then investigate applicable state laws and verify if they’d be able to work with you.
If you are interested in telehealth or have additional questions, I’d love to chat with you. Please give our office a call, and we can discuss further.