Telemental health, is it working for clients?
During these trying times with the pandemic saturating every part of our lives, telehealth and telemental health have become prominent. A study done in 2018 confirms that telehealth is effective.
As a therapist, I was skeptical. Observing a client’s posture, where they choose to sit, their foot shaking can help.
Telemental Health Advantages
On the other hand, online, we are sometimes introduced to the family dog, the kids, and other interactions that we don’t get to see at the office. Apart from the fact that it is fun to meet the children and the goldfish, it is informative to see our clients on location. We are in their home, office, or hiding in their vehicle because it is the only space they can find privacy. Occasionally, they show up in their pj’s. Moreover, there is an intensity when you are online in perpetual close-up for the full hour. If they don’t remember what the dosage of their script is, they can go get it off the shelf, hold it up to the screen.
What About Privacy with Telemental Health?
Doxy. me.com is our online platform because it is encrypted and HIPPA compliant. But we have clients that request a Zoom, SKYPE, or Facetime session. We have never had an issue with any of those platforms. However, we have had client sessions interrupted by a family member. One client’s son interrupted a session to thank me for helping his Mom, very sweet. A husband called out from the hallway, “that is not how I remember it!” To which the wife replied,”Hey, this is my session, I thought you were mowing the lawn.”
Clients Like It
While some clients do not want to try online counseling, most report that they really like it. I have clients that I have never met in person. They have resolved their issues and have moved on. Many clients tell us they appreciate being able to save driving time. Weather and traffic never cause them to be late or to cancel.
About half of the clients we see are virtual. Most tell us that they intend to continue being seen online, even after the pandemic is resolved. We encourage new clients to come into the office for the first visit if they are more comfortable. Several have since transitioned to online sessions.
As therapists, we are happy that virtual sessions can help more people find the help they need.
Myriam Mayshark is a licensed mental health counselor in New York State. For more information visit our website Resiliencetree.com