Why Choose Online Therapy?

In this post, some educational information will be provided for those of you who may not know much about online counseling. I have actually run across some potential clients who were not even aware that sessions could be done this way and were grateful to be informed of that option. There are numerous pluses to doing counseling via videoconference for both the client and the therapist! Research is also confirming that it can be just as effective as in-person therapy.

In any case, I am quite strong in the belief that online therapy is a far superior path than no treatment at all!

The benefits of online counseling include the following:
  • Sessions can be conducted in the comfort of your own home.
  • There is no traffic to deal with and no time spent trying to get to an office location.
  • Related to traveling to an office is the concern about those living in remote areas or in a location where there is difficulty getting to professionals who specialize in their particular needs. This problem then usually becomes a non-concern as the only location limits are state lines (due to clinician licenses).
  • The weather usually does not matter, which has been absolutely necessary during this winter we are experiencing here in Illinois!
  • If there happens to be a contagious illness happening with the client (or therapist) there is no fear about passing that onto the other person.
  • Childcare issues are non-existent or at least significantly lessened. If it is determined that a sitter will be needed, it is for a much shorter period due to having no driving time adding to the total.
  • Home-bound and handicapped clients can receive professional attention like those who are fortunate enough to be able to get to an office.
  • If there is something at a client’s home that would be helpful in the assessment or treatment (such as specific food choices in the pantry or a closet needing organizing) it can easily be seen via videoconference.
  • The chances of missing an appointment are much less, due to several of the above factors, plus the online therapy platforms most therapists utilize send multiple appointment reminders to clients typically on the same device as what will be used to enter the session.
Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. The iTherapy online platform is my current secure videoconference provider. Their system is quite easy to use, and the customer service is excellent including 24/7 technical support!

Gina L Spielman, LCSW, CH
Certified Mental Health Integrative Medicine Provider
Gina L. Spielman LCSW and Associates

Original Post February 14, 2019 – Why Choose Online Therapy?
Author: The Blueprint for Vibrant Health

Gina Spielman enjoys helping clients with depression, grief/loss, life transitions, coping with chronic physical illness, holistic and self-healing techniques, stress and pain reduction, spirituality, and relationships. She believes people can heal from almost anything, if they are open to it and work towards their goals in a positive way. She takes a holistic approach to therapy and healing – mind, body, and spirit. Call 1-630-212-704  or email gs@ginaspielman.com to set up a consultation. Visit Gina Spielman’s Profile

Three things Therapists wish they had thought about before providing therapy to out-of-state or international clients.

You’ve spent hours with your client and they’ve covered a lot of ground.  Your client recently received a promotion and is now moving. Because they’re thankful for all you’ve done together and want to continue the work they ask if you can continue being their therapist via online sessions.

It’s an epic moment, right?!  Until you realize you don’t know what to say…  

Don’t worry, after extensive research we discovered what you need to check off your list when providing therapy online to out-of-state clients, overseas clients, and internationally.  We even snuck in a few bonus thoughts at the end!

One thing you don’t want to miss and will apply regardless of where you’re providing therapy: make sure you’re following the guidelines of your licensing board.  In other words, figure out what your licensing board guidelines are FIRST and give them the most weight!

Now that, that’s out of the way…

Providing therapy online in different states.

Let’s say you live in North Carolina, but you just moved from Virginia.  What’s gonna happen to all your clients?! You can refer them of course, but what if they want to keep working with you?  After all you’ve spent a lot of time building a relationship to get to where you are today.

You already have a license in Virginia, the state you originally practiced in.  So here’s what you need to do:

  1. Is the state your client resides in telehealth friendly?
  2. What are the state’s regulations for telehealth that you client resides in?
  3. What regulations does the state you reside in have?

As Roy Huggins of Person Centered Tech says:

When you work with a client in a foreign state, your work is in both that state and your state. The purpose of the licensing board(s) in the client’s state is to regulate who is working with that client (Can I Practice “Skype Therapy” Across State Lines?).

In other words, you need to make sure you’re practicing legally in both states that therapy is being provided to and from.

Providing therapy online to overseas clients.

Your current client, in the state you’re licensed in, is traveling and wants to continue sessions while abroad.  More often than not, you’re good to go (finally, a simple answer), but it can never hurt to check your state’s regulations!

You have a client living overseas, you’ve crossed all the “t”s and dotted all the “i”s to provide them therapy internationally, but they’re moving stateside.  You need to abide by the regulations of the state your client will be resident in – more often than not you’ll need to be licensed in that state (make sure that state is telehealth friendly).  If the state is not telehealth friendly it would be a good time to build your referral list.

Providing therapy online while living overseas.

You’re living overseas (gosh, I’m jealous) and want to provide therapy online, right?!  All I have to say is you’re one brave and dedicated therapist.

There’s three areas you’re going to want to check:

  1. The regulations where you are certified.
  2. The regulations where you are located (providing therapy from).
  3. The regulations where your client is located/resident.

You can do further research on this here.

Additional thoughts to consider…

  • Is the online platform you’re using HIPAA compliant?
  • Does your insurance cover practicing in other states and overseas?
  • If you’re sued by an international client have you taken legal actions to be protected?

Basically, every everything we talked about today boils down to: if you’re providing therapy to someone outside of your state or nation you’re technically providing therapy in two places and therefore need to meet the regulations of both locations.

If that sounds like a lot of work to you, you’re feeling overwhelmed by the business end of an online practice AND finding a HIPAA compliant video platform book a call with us.  Making YOUR practice simple is what we do!

Tell Me More About Online Therapy!

When I began doing online therapy (therapy using video calling) I wasn’t sure what it would be like, for the client or myself. Would the client benefit? How much can the client really get out of online therapy? Is in person, office therapy better? Let’s talk about some of these questions and more! I think a lot of consumers and therapists probably wonder the same things!

Does online therapy work?

  • Is it as effective as in office therapy? People ask me this question a lot. I’ll admit, I was skeptical at first too. I have been doing online therapy for the last year with clients and have seen first hand the improvements that can be made if you are a motivated client ready for change. The main difference that I notice? Clients need to be much more proactive in their treatment. They need to follow through with their homework and really, really use the skills and things being taught in the sessions. Online therapy seems to be much more solutions focused, cognitive behavioral approach.
  • Check out this link for some research and studies on the effectiveness of online therapy compared to in office therapy: What you need to know before choosing online therapy

 

What are some of the benefits of online therapy?

  • It’s convenient! You can do it from the comfort of you own home or your office. Maybe you have time on your lunch break to hop on a video call. Online therapy saves you drive time! I get it; there is something to be said about making the effort to come to a therapy appointment. Maybe you are more bought in, you are in the “zone of therapy,” it decreases distractions, etc. On the flip side, (since I serve clients in California), do you ever just not want to drive an hour in that SoCal traffic one way to your therapy appointment? Does that hold you back from being consistent in your weekly therapy appointments? Or how about reaching the clients with an intense fear of leaving the house (agoraphobia)? Or severe depression? OCD? In my opinion, some therapy is better than no therapy.
  • Online therapy can be more affordable than in office therapy. Since insurance companies may or may not reimburse for online therapy services, I have reduced my rate to compensate for this. I can include a superbill if you would like to bill your insurance for possible reimbursement.
  • It’s easy to access. You can do a video session from your cell phone, laptop, computer, or tablet.
  • Scheduling can be more flexible. Since there is no drive time, appointments can be scheduled whenever you have a free 30 minutes or 1 hour (depending on session length).
  • The platform is completely confidential and HIPAA compliant, the same as in office therapy.

What does online therapy look like?

  • I use a platform called iTherapy. I will send you a link and it will take you to a “waiting room” until our session begins. The first time you have a session, it can feel a little weird to be speaking over a video platform, however, once you get used to it, it will be just the same as meeting in person. Sometimes people use the time to talk, vent, and gain insight. Other times we work on exercises together. Both of these are just like in office therapy.

I’m not technologically savvy; can I still do online therapy?

  • Definitely! The platform is user friendly and it’s very easy to log in or click on the link I send you.

I hope this was informative and helpful to see some of the benefits of online therapy. If you have any questions or want to know more, send me a message! Let’s chat! Get started changing your life today; see you online!

Lisa Jellison grew up in Northern California and is a 100% online therapist licensed in the state of California. Her passion is helping others find their dreams, think outside the box, let go of whatever is holding them back (fear, anxiety, depression, trauma, etc.), and truly become what they are meant to be in this world. She truly enjoys helping millennials discover their dreams, passions, live their truth, and live authentically! She offers individual, couples therapy, parenting skills, along with life coaching to help you reach your goals. Contact me via email lisajellison517@yahoo.com to set up a FREE 15-minute consultation. Visit Lisa Jellison’s Profile.

The Best Kept Secret to Owning and Operating Your Online Therapy Practice Independently

You’re sitting in front of your computer screen after seven in-person counseling sessions.  You’re exhausted, but determined to get to the bottom of this starting-an-online-practice thing.

Your cursor blinks in the search bar…

Hold up!

Before you go to bed another hour later we’d like to invite you to a virtual work-with-us experience (your family, your clients, and your tomorrow-morning-self will thank you for reading this to the end!).

Go back to your cursor in the search bar and type: how to have a simple online therapy practice

iTherapy pops up.  You click it. Here’s a summary of what you’ll discover:

  1. DEMO
  2. LIVE TUTORIAL
  3. LIVE SUPPORT
  4. EMAIL UPDATES (so you don’t forget about any features or miss updates)
  5. MONTHLY PAYMENTS
  6. PROFILE

DEMO

Your experience with iTherapy will start with a video chat to briefly walk you through our features.  Two things you should know going in: 1) We’re question friendly – the more the better. 2) Because we want you to be able to choose the best package for your practice we’re gonna throw a lot of information at you.  Hence, question-friendly.

Brief demo overview:

  • HIPAA Compliant Online Counseling Platform
  • Online Scheduling Feature
  • Client Management and Notes
  • Secure Communications
  • Client Invoicing and Payment Procession
  • Electronic Insurance Claims Submissions
  • Personalized Form Creation and Storage

TUTORIAL

You loved the demo and selected your package.  Congrats! You’ll receive a link to schedule another video session to get all your log in set up and make sure you know how to navigate all the features (including entering insurance info, scheduling HIPAA compliant video sessions, and filing notes).  

SUPPORT

Ever sat on the phone with Customer Service?!  Eats up your time, doesn’t it?! Believe me, we know.  But we’ll sit on hold for you. That’s right, we provide 24/7 live support.  All you have to do is let us know what the challenge is. If we can’t fix it, we’ll get to the bottom of it for you!

EMAIL UPDATES

As a business owner who helps people we know there’s a lot on your mind, not to mention any of the hats you might wear like parent, spouse, daughter, friend… We get that it’s hard to keep up with all the updates and remember all the features at your disposal.  So each month we get all those updates and reminders into one quick and catchy email so you can stay at the top of your game in life and business.

ONE MONTHLY PAYMENT

Like we said, we know your brain is in a lot of places at once, the last thing you need is seven payments to have all the platforms you need to run a HIPAA compliant online practice.  So we’ll send you ONE monthly payment. Pay it and you’re good to go for EVERYTHING!

PROFILE

When you work with iTherapy you get your very own profile on our website.  By writing a short bio, tagging the services you provide, and linking your website you have the opportunity to be found by someone who hops onto our website looking for a therapist (don’t worry, we’ll help you set this up, too).

In summary:

iTherapy is the brainchild of Carol Pulley, a practicing therapist, and her husband Forrest Pulley with 20+ years of business experience, who saw a need for a one-stop shop to owning and operating an online therapy practice independently.   

All that to say, we’re not here to sign you up with HIPAA compliant platforms and turn you loose.  

We’re here to help you – answer your questions and provide live tech support – as you help others, we just happen to provide all the HIPAA compliant resources you need to run a successful online practice.  

CEO/Founder of Village Mindset, LLC, Katesha S. Broadus, LCSW, BC-TMH, said this about providing online counseling for her clients through iTherapy:

“When I found out about iTherapy I was a few days from launching my practice. I cancelled everything and switched to iTherapy, because of their inclusive virtual office package (phone, fax, email), business coaching, and online platform that supported family/group counseling sessions. Without a doubt, iTherapy was a one stop shop for all of my business needs.”

If you’re like “This is the kind of simple I was looking for,” get your online therapy practice started by scheduling your real-life demo TODAY!

Is Online Therapy a Good Fit for You?!

You’ve finally crept all the way out to the edge of the high diving board.  Your toes are wrapped around the final centimeters of the white sandpaper-y bendy piece of something.

“You’ve got this,” your mom calls from the other side of the pool, video camera poised.

“Common, you’ll love it,” your friend yells from below.

“Yes, but…” you adjust your goggles.

2 breathless seconds later you’re pushing hair and water away from your face frantically scanning for the nearest ladder.  You did it.

“I did it!”.  You beam at your friend, “Let’s do it again!”.

And just like that you did something new, grew in a new layer of confidence in your capabilities, and had a blast (if I do say so myself).  Tomorrow, you’ll be the friend yelling, “Common, it’ll be fun!”.

But, let’s rewind real quick, just seconds before you were unsure…scared…wishing you hadn’t made it all the way to the edge because then you’d be allowed to walk back down.  And in a fraction of a minute you became a believer, right?!

What flipped you from scared and unsure to confident and excited?!  Experience.

That’s it.

And, believe it or not, experience is often the deciding factor between whether or not online therapy is a good fit for therapists looking to build or scale their practice.

Sure online therapy has its share of scary moments, so does face-to-face therapy, and so does jumping off the high diving board.  But fear and uncertainty, don’t make face-to-face therapy ineffective or dangerous in itself, just like fear and uncertainty don’t make jumping of the high-diving board not-fun or dangerous.  It’s the same way with online therapy.

Here are the three areas we have seen EXPERIENCE make the biggest impact in whether or not online therapy is a good fit for you – yes, you!

BUSINESS

There’s this whole business side of things for online therapy that still have to happen, right?!  Like a place to keep all your client records, notes, billing, and scheduling. Having a reliable platform or system to process and store all this information is critical in you being fully present during sessions and online therapy being a successful experience for you and your client.

I mean, if you’re hosting a session, but subconsciously freaking out about all the details and admin stuff for the session….probably won’t be a great session.

This is kinda like the ladder and everything holding the diving board….structure first.  You gotta get up those stairs in order to jump. So, make sure they’re sturdy (shameless plug alert: serving you in such a way that you can focus on your clients is what makes us proud, so schedule a demo with us to see if we’re you’re missing link to a thriving online practice).

TECHNOLOGY

Now.  The. Tech.  Basically, anyone’s worst enemy unless you’re some tech genius, which might mean you should join our team.  Seriously though, how familiar are you with the platform you will be using to host your online session (also, is it HIPPA compliant)?  

Have you hosted a mock session?  Do you know what all the buttons are?  Do you know how to mute the other person – mute yourself, for that matter?  How is the audio on your device/microphone? Are you even comfortable with video chat?

In other words, do you know how to swim?  Swimming lessons generally (most definitely, should) come before jumping off a high diving board.  Being comfortable with video chats should definitely come before an online session.

Get good at video chats.  Get comfortable talking to your friends and having a genuine conversation via video.  You. Can. Do. This.

PEOPLE

How good are you at building rapport with people in general?  Most therapist are concerned about online therapy with the simple thought that they won’t be able to build rapport.  But, are you good at building rapport with your clients in a face-to-face session?  What if your experience building rapport with clients face-to-face is the very thing that gives you a leg up to building rapport with clients via an online session?!

Thought of that, yet?

The fact that you could swim meant you weren’t gonna die jumping off that board.  Okay, maybe you wouldn’t have liked it and never done it again, but you knew you would surface and swim to the edge.  All you had to do was jump. That single jump would rule out an experience for you or open a whole new thrilling world.

So, jump.  Give online therapy a chance.

Chances are, online therapy isn’t as scary as you think and it’s probably more of a fit than you ever imagined.  You just need to decide if you like “the thrill of falling through the air” or not.  So all I have left for you today is…

What if you jump and find that online therapy isn’t a fit?!  You tried it so you’ll never have to wonder, “Could I have made more impact and income with online therapy?”.  

What if you do jump and online therapy ends up being the link to you not having to choose between your love for therapy and your love for your kids EVER again?!

In other words, what if online therapy is a fit, but you never knew because you never jumped?!

P.S.  We get it, this whole jumping thing can be scary (even after our epic post) so if you have questions or you’re just ready to get started with someone you trust schedule a demo with us.  Helping people who help people is what we do!  Seriously, the demo is on us, so book it!

 

 

The Best Way for a Therapist to Get Their Blog Read

“So basically, you need to be an expert at SEO if you want your blog to be seen?” I interrupted.

“No, not exactly…” Marissa explained.

Oh good, I thought.  There’s hope for us: the writers, the therapists, the business people – the person just trying to get their stuff into the world to influence, impact, and inspire.

Lucky for us, Marissa went on to explain three ways to get your blog post seen (and, yes, SEO is included):

  1. Frequency
  2. Formatting
  3. Marketing (wish I could come up with a word for marketing that started with “f”)
social media marketing for therapists; establish yourself as an expert through blog posts

FREQUENCY

Turns out, frequency is not as important as consistency.  Marissa explained that it would be better to post once a week on the same day and the same time each week, than three times at random days and times.

Anyone else like, “I can sign up for one blog post each week on the same day and time?!”.

“Depending on where you’re at in your business depends how frequently you post,” Marissa elaborated.  “If you’re in the building phase of your practice, your visibility online needs to be weekly – same day, same time.”  

You should keep this up for a minimum of twelve months.  After you get to twelve months, you’ll have fifty-two blog posts.  Now you’re maintaining visibility so you can do bi monthly or monthly.  When you’re not introducing fresh content to your audience you can direct your audience to the previous content you created via push marketing (we will talk about at the end of this post).

FORMATTING

Formatting is a combination of font, emphasis, and images.  

You want your font to be a comfortable reading size, but more importantly, you want there to be sufficient space between lines, words, and in the margins so that the content doesn’t feel like a cramped textbook.  Think about creating a therapeutic environment for your text online.

With the speed of the internet we’re all culprits for scanning content.  Emphasis, whether that’s putting quotations in a box or italicizing sentences that you don’t want people to miss.  Taking the time to emphasize the sentences that carry a punch will dramatically increase how many people read and apply the content you’re giving them!

How many blog posts do you read that don’t have pictures?  Unless it’s some sort of research or business post, probably not many.  Images keep your readers attention and break up text in a similar way to adding emphasis.  We recommend 2-3 images for every 5000 characters.  

MARKETING

There’s push marketing, which is anytime you’re pushing your content into the world.  Think social media. And there’s pull marketing: SEO.

Choosing the best social media platform to be on comes down to knowing which platform your audience predominantly uses.  If you don’t know, no worries, facebook is still the most used social media platform, so you can’t go wrong starting there (while you’re at it steal these ideas for leveraging facebook).

Marissa was clear about the following two things when it came to leveraging social media:

  1. Join facebook groups that cater to your ideal clients; get busy encouraging and serving the members.
  2. Only start with ONE social media platform: Until you can track your conversions and have a solid social media strategy there’s no point in spreading yourself thin on more than one platform.  In other words: Before you add a platform get clear on how you’re converting clients, growing your audience, and increasing views on your current platform.

Pull marketing is when you’re attracting viewers by leveraging systems that are already in place.  SEO (search engine optimization) is the way google connects related information and generates results for what people search.   

“You don’t have to be an SEO guru,” Marissa was a welcomed voice a reason.  “There’s 10 MUST DOs for SEO just shoot for 5-7.”

Here’s a list you’re welcome to use for yourself:

  1. Do a keyword search
  2. Choose your post title well
  3. Include keywords in your url
  4. Use your image text
  5. Optimize your heading
  6. Use relevant internal links
  7. Write a meta description
  8. Link your post to old posts
  9. Choose tags and categories strategically
  10. Check for rich result in SERP (search engine results page)
social media marketing and increasing blog views for therapist.

Now, you have a choice:  You can be overwhelmed by all these techniques and not post until you can get them all right (which, let’s be real, might never happen), or you can choose one of these techniques and commit to sharing your wisdom in the off chance that it will fall into the hands of someone who desperately needs it.

Here’s what we recommend: Just pick one day of the week to post and what time of day you’re gonna share your wisdom with the world.  Commit to it for three months, six months, twelve months – whichever length of time you believe you’re capable of.  And gradually, you’ll find yourself adding formatting, push marketing, and pull marketing techniques.

Before you go, I want to leave you with this encouragement from Marissa:

As a therapist you are a professional at emotion and communication.  When you realize that you have all the skills you need to establish yourself as an expert, online blogging and social media marketing can go from something that’s really hard to something that’s really fun.

P.S. If you liked this post you’ll probably like “The most productive blog post a therapist can write…”. Feel free to connect directly with Marissa Lawton and take the survey to discover what your natural marketing style is!

Three secrets to fill your Online Therapy schedule in less than twelve months

“I was told that you couldn’t make real money if you had your own practice. Well, all I can say is, ‘I wish I had started my practice sooner.’ I’m earning the money I need, doing what I love, and running my own schedule, all because I started my own practice.”

As Carol and I talked I realized that while she took risks to build her own practice her risks were calculated. Her intentional decisions allowed her to start well and less than a year after opening her practice was already compiling a client waitlist.

If there was ever an epic start to a thriving online therapy practice it’s Carol’s. The best part is, she let me in on her secrets and I’m here to share them with you…

COACHES

Tell me if this sounds familiar: How will I find clients? How am I gonna be compliant? How do I deal with insurance? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, right?! Coaches give you a safe place to ask these questions AND find the answers. Not only is a coach someone who knows the way but they will also provide you with accountability and encouragement.

Carol had one coach who helped her navigate starting an online practice and another coach who helped her navigate the business/personal side of things. Now she works with iTherapy to handle payments, schedule compliant video sessions, and file client information.

CAREFUL SPENDING

Starting any practice means you have to face financial questions. Instead of getting paralyzed by the financial weight of starting a practice take a moment to answer these questions:

How much money do I NEED to live on?
How much money would I LIKE to make?
How much money do I WANT to save?

When you are able to break down the amounts into monthly and weekly figures you will be able to calculate how many clients you need in order to have a sustainable practice.

Carol was careful to point out that she didn’t pay for every single feature to get her practice off the ground. She spent what she had on exactly what she needed. As her practice grew she was able to add features to her business that made her practice more simple and streamlined.

CONNECT WITH LOCAL THERAPISTS

When Carol first mentioned this I was like, “Wait. What?! You’re starting an online practice, but you’re networking with local therapists.”

“Yes,” she said.

She explained that she was meeting with them for two reasons:

To ask about insurances they accepted and typically worked with.
To build a referral list.

Before she knew it she was getting referrals from the therapists she had met with. Now she is referring clients to them. Talk about a win-win!

Needless to say, starting your own practice is risky, but being intentional about the risks you take can lead to a thriving practice. Get yourself a coach or two where you can dump all your questions and create strategies to overcome your fears. Get clear on your financial goals and don’t spend more than you have. Get connected with local therapists and ask if you can add them to your referral list.

Before you go, I want to be the one who tells you, “You can totally earn money as a private therapist. And you are capable of starting your very own practice!”.

Let us know which tip you’re gonna do first, in the comments.

Also, later this month we will be talking about making sure your website content is on point so stick around!

I Don’t Have Time For Therapy… And Other Reasons to Consider Online Therapy

So, you’re interested in obtaining psychotherapy but don’t want to take off hours from work to drive to a therapist’s office, meander around searching for parking, and then drive back to work after an emotionally-laden session. I don’t blame you. Wouldn’t it be nice if your therapist could just come to you? Well, I’ve got good news. Keep reading.

What is Telepsychology?

Telepsychology is one term used to describe psychotherapy services offered via phone, interactive video, email, or text messaging. You may have heard these services referred to as distance therapy, e-therapy, virtual therapy, or web therapy. In this blog, I will be speaking of telepsychology services that are provided real-time via on-line video.

Reasons to Consider Online Video Therapy:

Confidentiality. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for clients to worry about the stigma of seeing a therapist. Telepsychology offers a degree of anonymity that helps reduce stigma-related fears. Many of my clients who are professionals, worry that they will encounter their own patients or clients in my waiting room. These apprehensions can be alleviated with telepsychology.
Efficiency. Efficiency is one of the primary reasons my clients utilize telepsychology services. A 45-minute sessions takes up 45-minutes of their time. No more leaving work early to sit in traffic for their session. They can complete a therapy session during their lunch hour and still have time for a sandwich.
Convenience. No sitter? No transportation? Got the sniffles? You can still have your therapy session, as long as you have internet access.
Comfort. Many people find that being in their own “space” is more comfortable and some find it easier to share revealing, personal information if they are in the comfort of their own home. Furthermore, I have had clients say that having their pet or their favorite pillow by their side during virtual therapy is an additional source of comfort that is not available in my office.
Access. Telepsychology can be especially beneficial for clients who live in rural areas or underserved communities where there is a shortage of therapists or a lack of specialized providers. Online video therapy allows the client access to more clinicians and specialists who may not be within a reasonable driving distance.

How Does Online Video Therapy Work?

There are some differences among the various telehealth platforms, but typically you will click on a link that is received in a confirmation Email or log in to the website. There may be a few-second download the first time the service is used. You then, usually, enter a virtual waiting room. Ta Da! It’s that simple.

Both video and audio should be on. Headsets/earbuds provide additional privacy and are recommended. You should discuss with the therapist what the plan is if connectivity is lost. My backup plan A for these situations is to complete the session by phone. For the most part, however, if your device can stream services like Netflix, you shouldn’t have any significant problems using online video therapy. The experience is similar to using Skype or FaceTime.

The Questions You Should Ask:

Does My Insurance Cover Telepsychology? While more and more insurance companies are now covering telepsychology services, not all are. You’ll want to call your insurance company directly and ask about whether or not telehealth services are a covered service.
Is It Safe? Confidential? One of the reasons that psychotherapy is effective is because the psychologist ensures that you have a safe and private space to share your thoughts and feelings. An online video session should also feel like and be a safe space. You should ask is the service is HIPAA compliant, indicating that your privacy is maintained.
Where Is The Provider Licensed? While there are a few exceptions, psychologists must be licensed in the state where you are located to order to offer therapy services.

Need Help? Get It!

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, one in five Americans struggle with mental illness. Yet, only one third of these people obtain treatment for various reasons. Some of these barriers can be alleviated with telepsychology.

Telepsychology is rapidly growing. Despite all the benefits, however, telepsychology is not for everyone. If you contact a therapist who provides telepsychology services, they will ask you several questions to assess your appropriateness. Furthermore, you may find that face-to-face treatment is more effective for you. If you need help, get it…via whatever modality is beneficial for you.

Related Blogs
If you found this blog post helpful, stay tuned for these upcoming blog posts by yours truly: Do I Need Therapy, What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, and How do I Select a Therapist. I also suggest reading my recent blog posts, Reasons to Consider NOT Using Your Insurance for Psychotherapy and What Is Psychotherapy on AboutTherapy.blogspot.com

Dr. Beverly Pedroche | Counseling Private Practice, Start a Counseling Private Practice  

Learn more about Beverly Pedroche

Top 10 Reasons to Offer Online Therapy

Offering online therapy can be extremely rewarding both for you, the mental health provider, and for your clients. Here’s the top 10 reasons why it’s awesome.

1. Ease & Convenience –

Nothing beats the convenience of online therapy for both you and your client. Save time by saying good bye to your commute. With online therapy, you can perform sessions anywhere you have an internet connection. For you, that probably means a quiet space in your home. For your client that can be their home, their office, their car (while parked!) – anywhere they can find privacy and some free time. What’s more, it’s easy – providing an online video therapy session is much the same as providing a session in-office. Establishing a connection with the client is as simple as clicking a link. After that, you just talk to them like normal. Contact Us for a free demo!

2. Keep in touch –

If you’ve ever had to stop sessions with a client due to a move, you know how frustrating that can be. With online therapy, you might not have to stop your sessions.

Why online therapy?

Introduction to Online Psychotherapy

Is Online Therapy Right For You? (video)

Online Therapy Growth and Efficacy White Paper

The Benefits of Online Therapy (Video)

Online Psychotherapy

I was working in a University Counseling Center about five years ago when I realized how helpful online psychotherapy could be. Several of my therapy clients were graduating college before they were really ready to graduate from therapy.  I wished that I could continue working with them, but most were leaving the area.  Moves create an arbitrary end to therapy. I realized this wasn’t just affecting my clients.  Data from the US Census Bureau suggests that the average American will move about 11 times.  Starting over with a new therapist can be hard.  It can be so hard that many clients simply won’t do it, even when they really need to.  Online psychotherapy makes the therapist portable.

I watched as the demand for online psychotherapy grew so rapidly that legislative and professional bodies had to race to play catch up.  Just five years later, not only are there legal and ethical guidelines about the provision of online services, many states are now pushing insurance companies to provide reimbursement for a variety of online services, including psychotherapy.  As people have grown increasingly comfortable connecting online, industries are evolving to meet the consumer demands.

Last year I tried online psychotherapy for myself.  As a psychologist, I’m just a little bit picky (okay, alot picky) about about my psychotherapy.  Great therapy is about fit.  The therapist should be extremely competent in the client’s specific needs and there must be a good connection between therapist and client.  I realized quickly how limiting geography would be for me.  Many of the best psychologists in my area were colleagues and friends, which meant that they couldn’t also be my therapist.

I kept hearing about a particularly good psychologist who worked a bit too far for me to commute. His name came up over and over again. Finally, I called and asked if he would be willing to do therapy online.  To my great benefit, he agreed.

My friends and colleagues were right, his skill and style were a particularly good fit for me.  But, to my surprise, so was the the mode of therapy.  I never arrived to therapy frazzled by a frustrating commute.  I had the time to spend a few minutes before sessions mentally preparing or jotting down some thoughts.  I enjoyed sessions from the comfort of my own home and with my trusty dog by my side.  I even found that the “distance” of working together online made it a bit easier for me to open up more quickly.

This may not be everyone’s experience, but it was such a positive and powerful one for me that I decided it was finally time to offer it to others.  If you are interested in pursuing online psychotherapy, you can set up an appointment with me at https://itherapy.com/counselor/dr-amber-lyda/

Remember that good therapy is about fit.  I encourage you to read more about me and also about others local to your area or online.

Our first session will be an assessment.  Think of it as a mental health check up.  I’ll ask lots of questions to get a good sense of who you are and how you might be helped.  I’ll offer recommendations for treatment.  They may be with me, or in cases where others would be a better fit, I promise to share that recommendation as well.  The first session is not a commitment to therapy.  You can choose to proceed or not.  It is an opportunity to learn more about yourself and about the process.  Each day is a new chance to invest in your best self.

https://itherapy.com/counselor/dr-amber-lyda/

Does My Insurance Cover Online Counseling?

Does my insurance cover this?  

Whether I meet a client online or in my office, this is one of the first questions clients ask me, usually after “are you licensed?” The answer is the same, and that is “I am not sure, but I know how to find out.”

Whether you plan to see a counselor online or in their office, it is a good idea that you verify your insurance before your first appointment so that there are no surprises. Imagine how terrible it would feel to share your story and feelings and then be excited that you have found a counselor you like, only to find your insurance plan does not cover services or that you can’t afford the payments.

I think you can see the benefit of checking on your coverage before you bare your soul. 

The steps to verify whether your visits are covered are the same whether you plan to see a counselor online or in an office. You should contact your insurance company and ask the following questions:

 Does my plan cover Mental Health Benefits?

  • What is my Mental Health Deductible? – It may be separate from your medical deductible.
  • Have I met my deductible? If not, how much have I contributed towards my deductible.
  • Do I have a Copayment or Coinsurance that will be due at the time of service?
  • Are Online Therapy Services (Elemental Health Services) covered under my plan? (Many states require that insurance companies cover online services).
  • Ask your insurance company if it requires the therapist to be part of a preferred provider network or if there are any limitations on whom you choose to receive therapy from.
  • Is there a limit to the number of sessions?

It has never been more convenient to receive counseling, though it is a difficult decision to take the first step—but one that can change your life forever.

To find out more visit: https://itherapy.com/insurance/

 

 

Does Insurance Cover Online Counseling ?

Does my Insurance cover this ?  Whether I meet a client online or in my office, this is one of the first questions clients ask me, usually after are you licensed? The answer is the same whether I am meeting someone online or in my office, that is “I am not sure, but I know how to find out.”

Even employees who work for the same company and have the same insurance provider can have different plans, with different benefits and deductibles and copayments. Now with the Affordable Care Act there are even more plans with more confusing benefit structures.

Whether you plan to see a counselor online or in their office, it is a good idea that you verify your insurance before your first appointment so that there are no surprises. Imagine how terrible it would feel to share your story and feelings and then be excited that you have found a counselor you like, only to find your insurance plan does not cover services or that you can’t afford the payments.

I think you can see the benefit of checking on your coverage before you bare your soul.

The steps to verify whether your visits are covered are the same whether you plan to see a counselor online or in an office. You should contact your insurance company and ask the following questions:

  •  Does my plan cover Mental Health Benefits?
  •  What is my Mental Health Deductible? – It may be separate from your medical deductible.
  •  Have I met my deductible? If not how much have I contributed towards my deductible.
  •  Do I have a Copayment or Coinsurance that will be due at the time of service?
  • Are Online Therapy Services (Telemental Health Services) covered under my plan? (Many states require that insurance companies cover online services).
  • Ask your insurance company if it requires the therapist to be part of a preferred provider network.
  • Is there a limit to the number of sessions?

More than 17 states require insurance companies cover Online Counseling, so there is a good chance you are covered. Many states require the counselor be based in the state where you live, while others do not. Even if you find you are  not covered by insurance, many services are very affordable, for instance irx.thedotsmedia.com currently offers a $25.00 initial session with additional sessions at reasonable rates. 

It has never been more convenient to receive counseling, it is a difficult decision to take the first step, but it is one that can change your life forever.If you would like more information you can visit: www.irx.thedotsmedia.com and view the “Insurance” section found in the online counseling dropdown box.

Hope to see you there!

Carol Pulley

Licensed Psychological Associate

My Online Counseling Experiences

When my partner and I founded iTherapy, we developed the concept to meet the needs of our existing face to face clients, during a particularly rough winter season in the mountains of North Carolina. As travel was severely impacted we were missing many appointments with our clients. Many of our clients were already struggling, and the isolation and the inability to meet with their therapist was making them feel even worse.

In order to provide continuity of care I began meeting with my clients via phone and video. I was amazed at how effective it was and how easy it was of my clients to attend video or phone sessions. My clients loved the flexibility and ease of being able to meet with me without leaving their homes and dealing with the inclement weather. One of my clients was severely depressed and really struggled to attend appointments as it was such an effort, to our mutual surprise, she never missed an appointment when she could meet via video, it reduced many of the barriers that usually got in her way of attending appointments.

As winter turned to spring many of my clients that were college students began to ask if we could meet online during the summer. Summer and breaks have always presented a challenge for college students and counselors, as  when students head home they typically face new challenges adjusting to new routines, being back with parents, away from friends and relationships. Now they were able to head home, to foreign study programs or to new cities with the confidence they could still continue regular therapy sessions with a therapist who knew their story. They shared the relief they felt by not having to start over with a new therapist or forgo therapy altogether.

I had another client who had a busy schedule and was worried about being seen at a therapist’s office. She was able to meet with me via video from her office and once even from her car, (she was parked, not driving!). The flexibility and convenience have allowed so many busy people who otherwise probably could not attend sessions, to meet with me on a regular basis.

While online counseling is neither for everyone or for every situation, I have been amazed by all of the wonderful applications and by the effectiveness of the treatment. Therapists often wonder if the personal connection and the ability to observe nonverbal communication is reduced . I find that it is heightened when using video by being focused only on the client and nothing else. Phone appointments seem to work in the reverse as many clients share they feel empowered and protected by the anonymity and they are able to share things more quickly and honestly than they have in the past.

Obviously, I am a believer, and I am biased. But I wanted to share my experiences in the hopes that more therapists and clients will at least give online therapy a try. If you are ready to take the next step please take a look at the site www.irx.thedotsmedia.com and schedule an appointment or feel free to send me a contact request through the website.

Carol Pulley

Licensed Psychological Associate

Online Counseling: Is it right for me?

Online therapy is scary to some people because it hasn’t been around 100 years like traditional psychotherapy. It’s not the right answer for everyone. It’s certainly not appropriate for someone who is suicidal or in crisis or for certain complex diagnosis.

The only way to find out is to take the first step. An online therapist will refer you to someone in your community if they feel that online services are not appropriate for you.

Online therapy works best for people who are comfortable with technology. If you’re one of those people that would rather text to your friends than call them on the phone, you have successfully jumped the first hurdle. Some people are just plain uncomfortable meeting with someone face to face.

Many of our clients shared that their progress has been much faster than previous face to face treatment because they felt more comfortable sharing their true deeper feelings earlier in sessions, due to the anonymity. Some even said that when working with the most wonderful therapists, they found it difficult to share certain information while sitting five feet away from them.

If you’re someone who needs to travel a lot or have busy schedules that don’t allowed you to make regular appointments in person, being able to connect via your mobile phone or laptop can be a life changer.

One of the best aspects for many people is the anonymity of online therapy. The nosey neighbor never has to know that you’re seeing a therapist. Imagine attending your video and phone sessions on your lunch hour while walking around the park.

People living in remote areas or having limited access to specialists have limited options for therapy. Online therapy provides them opportunity to have access to the best therapists in the country and in some cases, the world.

Online therapy is something that no one even imagined a few years ago. Like so much of the Internet, you no longer have to accept what is available in your local community; you can make your choice based on your needs and wants. It wasn’t that long ago that you were stuck with the selection of electronics available at your local Radio Shack, now you have Amazon, EBay and a million other sites.

If you are not comfortable with the latest online technology you can have your sessions via phone. There was a time, not so long ago, when even talking to a therapist on the phone was considered cutting edge. Although any phone will work, not all phones are created equal. Now, with the ubiquity of mobile phones it seems silly not to leverage them. Not having to lock your office door or being able to take a walk while you go over issues are some of the benefits.

Only you will know if online therapy is right for you, just like you were unsure if sushi was for you. The only way to find out is to try it out and see if it’s what you were expecting.

If you need assistance with technology, we are happy to help get you started and answer any questions, we know trying something new can be intimidating, just contact us via contact request or www.irx.thedotsmedia.com  or call 1-800-432-7996 and we will be happy to help.