Since the start of shelter-in-place orders, most therapists have taken their practices online. Some, like myself, plan to make a permanent change to a teletherapy practice.
Why? Aside from “no contact” sessions, teletherapy has many advantages. You can schedule a session with me without having to plan time to commute. Your assurance of confidentiality may be increased because you don’t have to go in and out of an office or announce yourself to the front desk. You can create a good relationship with me without distractions.
Teletherapy has a few drawbacks. You need to be comfortable on the Internet. You also need a reliable Internet connection. And, you need to find a place that is private.
The platform—that is, the site where teletherapy takes place—matters. HIPAA laws are currently relaxed so that therapists and healthcare workers can use Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime.
I say nuts to that! One of the “secret ingredients” of therapy is knowing that everything you say is confidential with some legal exceptions, like if you say you are going to harm yourself. I chose a platform called SimplePractice because it is HIPAA compliant for teletherapy as well as sharing documents and delivering invoices or superbills.
Teletherapy is becoming more common and may be covered by insurance, depending on your plan. I have been an out-of-network, fee-for-service provider for almost 20 years and I know reimbursement can vary greatly. If you want to try to use your benefits, please call the 800# on the back of your card and ask about coverage for teletherapy. Don’t forget, though, most insurance does not pay for couples’ therapy sessions.
When I meet with you as a teletherapy client, I bring the same experience and skills as I do if I meet with you in real life. I will conduct 1-2 intake sessions and we will talk about your goals, your diagnosis, if any, and the treatment plan. We will meet weekly or biweekly and go over your progress and work together on next steps.
After our intake chat, I will enter your name, phone number, and other essential information into the confidential SimplePractice record system. I will also take your credit card information so that I can charge you after our appointment.
You will get an email confirming our appointment time. Then, you’ll receive another email shortly before we meet. That email will have a link for you to click so that we can connect by video. At the end of the appointment, I will enter my notes into the record system and complete billing. By request, you can have either an invoice for your records or a superbill to submit to your insurance company.
I was initially a little resistant to taking my practice online, but quite honestly, I have found it to be a delightful way to meet with people. Give it a shot, you might find you really appreciate the convenience and privacy of teletherapy!