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Update: COVID-19, Psychotherapy, and Telehealth
Our lives have drastically changed since early-March, 2020. Physical threat and economic uncertainty have become the norm as we attempt to recapture the lives we once enjoyed. Worry, fear, stress, and depression are emotions that we confront daily.
Social distancing has changed the way we interact with healthcare providers. In these difficult times, healthcare providers have adjusted service delivery. Mental health care is an essential service, particularly as people struggle with increases in anxiety, stress, and depression. Today’s restrictions have forced most psychotherapists to offer behavioral health services using technology such as video and phone.
During shelter-in-place requirements, Pacific CBT therapists are providing 100% telehealth – primarily video meetings. Licensing requirements allow us to work with any client who is physically in California.
Pacific CBT therapists offer services through video conferencing. In our fast-paced lives, visiting a therapist for psychotherapy in person may be impossible or very inconvenient for some clients. Technology advances have made it possible, in some cases, for therapists to offer services via video conferencing. This service is called teletherapy or telehealth.
There are many factors to consider when choosing teletherapy versus in-person sessions. The decision should be made in collaboration with a therapist experienced providing this type of service. It is a unique service that requires specialized training.
Here are some of the pros and cons of teletherapy:
- It is more convenient to receive therapy from your home or workplace.
- There is no need to contend with commute time and traffic.
- It’s possible to have access to services that might not available in rural or underserved communities.
- It provides services to those who are housebound or immobile.
- It’s a new way of delivering services; we don’t know if it’s as effective as in-person therapy.
- There’s the loss of the “human” element of communicating with someone in the same room.
- Some of the nuisances of communication may be lost due to the two-dimensional nature of video therapy.
- It’s not ideal for clients who are in crisis or experiencing acute symptoms who might need the “containment” of being in a therapist’s office.
- The therapist will not be as familiar with adjunct services in the community that may be beneficial to the client.
- Some techniques used in therapy require hands-on demonstration and practice.
- The platforms that therapists use should be HIPAA-compliant and guarded with the highest level of internet security. However, there is still the remote possibility that privacy can be compromised.
- Insurance companies may not cover services offered by video conferencing.
- The reliability of video conferencing may vary due to a variety of factors that may be outside of your control, i.e. DSL service disruption, platform reliability, etc.
Here are some considerations:
- State licensing boards regulate the psychological services received by its residents. As a rule, your therapist will need to be licensed to practice in the state you hold residence.
- When traveling out of state or abroad, teletherapy could be a way of continuing to receive therapy, provided your residence does not change.
- Teletherapy is an emerging means of service delivery. Check that your therapist has received training to provide this service.
- Plan to insure you will have privacy at the location where you will receive the teletherapy session.
- Test your equipment and the video platform the therapist uses before the first session. Also, DSL reception can vary by time of day, changes to location in house or office, the number of people drawing from the connection, and changes in weather.
- Check with your insurance company before starting teletherapy. Some insurance plans will not cover sessions delivered out of the office.
- When possible, try to schedule an in-person session with your therapist. It can be helpful to make the person-to-person connection.
- If you are in crisis or experiencing acute symptoms, let your therapist know as soon as possible. It might be necessary to have you seen by a local therapist or provide you will resources in your community.
Contact one of the therapists at Pacific CBT to see if teletherapy is an option for you. We can provide a 15-minute phone consultation, at no cost, to talk about working together.
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Our therapists are highly trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and go through ongoing training and consultations to ensure our knowledge and skills can help you tackle your anxiety disorders.
At Pacific CBT, we offer the best anxiety treatment in San Francisco. Contact us for a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation to determine if our specialized services can help address your needs.
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