By Carol Mirones, LCSW
What is online therapy?
Online therapy (or telehealth) is the provision of healthcare remotely by means of telecommunications technology. That’s simple, right? You may have used FaceTime or Skype in the past. Conversely, you’ve also probably gotten pretty familiar with Zoom over the past year or so. Online therapy is similar, the only difference is we use a HIPAA compliant platform.
What’s so great about telehealth?
#1 – You’ll stay safe
Let’s face it, there’s not just Covid going around out there. You may be in a high risk group, or be in close contact with someone who is vulnerable. It makes sense that the less you leave your home, the less chance you’ll come in contact with someone who may be contagious with something that may be harmful. It also makes sense that staying home all the time negatively affects your mental health. Are you thinking that you need therapy now more than you ever have?
Telehealth is the solution to starting or continuing psychotherapy safely, because you won’t be taking the risk of catching a communicable disease. By choosing to get treated utilizing telehealth you’re protecting yourself and helping yourself all at the same time.
#2 – It’s convenient
Do you find it hard to fit an hour of psychotherapy into your busy schedule? You’re not alone! Going to your therapist office involves first – getting dressed (a novel idea in Pandemic times)! Second, you’ve got to drive to your therapist’s office. Third, you may have to drive around in circles looking for parking. Fourth, you’ll spend an hour with your therapist. Lastly, you’ll drive home, or back to work, or wherever you’re going next.
All of this effort is worth it if you prefer to see your therapist in person, or your personal situation warrants an in-person session. However, if this is not the case, you can still ‘see’ your therapist through the magic of modern technology.
Simply turning on your computer or using your phone/tablet at the time of your appointment is convenient! There’s no driving, parking, or having to get out of the house. We do require you have clothes on, but we don’t care if you’re still in your pajama pants.
Some of you might suffer from anxiety which may cause you to stress and worry about driving to your therapist’s office. Many people with high anxiety are more consistent with their therapy through telehealth methods.
Maybe you have mobility issues. I get it because I’ve been there. A long time ago I spent a bit of time in a wheelchair after a bad car accident. I understand how hard it is to get around when you’re struggling with your mobility. Online counseling is an excellent resource for you if you are struggling to get around.
You may need to schedule therapy on your lunch hour, or right after your kid goes down for a nap. Perhaps you’re a caregiver to your elderly parents and you feel more comfortable staying home just in case of an emergency. You might just want to head home after work and do your therapy from the comfort and convenience of your couch. Whatever the reason, the convenience factor to telehealth is important and we at Seasons understand that this option is appealing to a lot of our clients.
#3 – No transportation, No problem
Is your car on the fritz and you need to talk to your therapist? Hey – you’ve got telehealth as an option. No problem! Perhaps you’re not able to drive because of the above mentioned health concerns. Just because you aren’t able to drive does not mean that you’re not deserving of mental health care. I can imagine you might feel disconnected because of your lack of transportation. It may seem strange at first, but telehealth really does allow you and your therapist to develop a close relationship. Many of our clients say that the computer format of telehealth is not a big deal, it kind of blends into the background of the work we do in therapy.
#5 – You can be comfortable doing telehealth
Fuzzy socks and your dog or cat on your lap sounds good right? Also, it’s great to take the time you’re in online therapy to enjoy a cup of your favorite tea or a nice mug of coffee. The beauty of telehealth is you’re sitting on your own couch! If you’re someone who gets anxious going to therapy, doing it through the online platform really helps to alleviate that anxiety. Sometimes it’s easier for some people to share personal information online. You’re in control of your own environment. Therefore, you can have things around you that you’re comfortable with.
#6 – Online therapy works
A 2018 study confirmed that online therapy for depression and anxiety has been proven acceptable, effective, and practical health care. Research consistently shows that online therapy works for a lot of people’s mental health issues. A major component of therapy involves the relationship between your therapist and you. Online therapy works as a means to foster and develop that relationship.
#7 – You’ll never run into someone you know
It may sound silly, but your privacy is important. The last thing you want when you go to therapy is to run into your kid’s third grade teacher. Online therapy provides the privacy you need.
Common concerns people have about online therapy
As great as online therapy is, it might not be for everyone. There are certain situations that telehealth may not be great. Sometimes online counseling presents some drawbacks or potential risks.
What if I’m feeling suicidal?
- If you are feeling suicidal, online therapy is not the best form of psychotherapy for you. In that case, it is important to seek in person therapy to help you overcome your persistent suicidal thoughts. Please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) if you are currently feeling like you might hurt yourself. It’s important to seek help immediately if you are thinking scary thoughts. Moreover, the therapists at Seasons Psychotherapy are ready and able to help you in person if this is something you are chronically struggling with. There is hope.
I’m terrible at computers, won’t it be too complicated?
- Technology is great…until it isn’t, right? We’ve all been there – our internet crashes, a storm knocks our power out, or our computer dies and we can’t find the charger. Then, the worst thing happens and our screen freezes at the absolute worst time. These barriers can be overcome. In fact, our therapists are pretty good at walking you through the whole online therapy process. Please don’t let fear of technology hold you back from trying online therapy. We can help you connect. There’s no reason to wait and prolong distressing mental health issues. You are not in this alone.
What about privacy?
- Often people ask me, “Is online therapy private?” Let me assure you that the psychotherapy telehealth platforms Seasons uses are HIPAA compliant and private. Besides, the biggest difficulty you might have is finding privacy in your own home. It’s nothing a good door with a lock won’t take care of. We ask that you turn your phone on silent, get comfy, and put up either a verbal or physical ‘do not disturb’ sign for your loved ones.
Will my insurance cover telehealth?
- One of the biggest concerns you may have is about your insurance coverage and online therapy. Consequently, it will be important for you to call and verify that online therapy is covered by your particular plan.
I’m traveling, can I still keep my therapy appointment?
- The answer to this question is tricky. In fact, Florida licensed mental health professionals can see anyone physically in the state of Florida. You do not have to be a resident of Florida to receive online therapy, you just have to have your two feet planted on Florida soil. So, if you are vacationing somewhere in Florida you can certainly keep your therapy appointment with your Seasons psychotherapist. But, if you’re off enjoying a different state or a foreign country, then you’ll have to wait until you return (and hopefully you’re having too much fun to care anyway).
What to expect
Once our Intake Coordinator has set up your appointment, you will receive a link to login to our easy to use and private client portal. All of Seasons intake paperwork and forms will be completed through the portal with e-signatures. Finally, you’ll receive email and/or text reminders about your appointment, and you’ll be one click away from joining your online session! If you are using a mobile device you will be asked to download an App to facilitate the session. We promise to make it as easy as possible.
Policies Around Telehealth
We have a few policies in regards to Telehealth that we would like to make our clients aware of. It is important to treat Telehealth the same as coming into an in-person session. The clinicians at Seasons cannot provide services to someone who is driving, that is a safety hazard. We also must know the exact location of the client at each session so that we can document that location in case the client requires emergency help. We need to know a local emergency contact person’s name and phone number if you are choosing Telehealth as your preferred mode of therapy. We ask that clients dress appropriately, and do not drink alcohol or smoke during sessions. We must be able to see the client on the screen during the entire session. Finally, it’s important that privacy is ensured and you let your clinician know if you are not alone. We also do not allow the recording of sessions.
Take the next step
Your life and the world may seem out of control right now. We have all collectively suffered losses over the past few years. Whatever the case may be, if you are here on this page you have come to the right place. We are here to help. Pick up the phone today and call 954-342-0982. We look forward to talking with you.
It’s time you seek help to become the best you possible. Please reach out soon.