Distance Counseling & Teletherapy

Teletherapy” includes the practice of education, goal setting, accountability, referral to resources, problem solving, skills training, and help with decision making. Teletherapy counseling may include mental health care delivery, diagnosis, consultation, and psychotherapeutic treatment.

Although in person services are always preferred, teletherapy does have some benefits that make it an effective alternative during this time when direct contact is not safe.

• Increases access to services to those that typically may not attend in person sessions.
• Flexibility of time and scheduling
• Flexibility of talking with a counselor from the comfort of your own home/private space.
• Uses technology (video conferencing) that has become popular and familiar (especially with college aged individuals)
• Decreases stigma by not having to present in person to a provider’s office.

Receiving teletherapy services may not be advised if I have experienced any of the following:
• recent suicide attempt(s), psychiatric hospitalization, or psychotic processing (last 3 years)
• moderate to severe major depression or bipolar disorder symptoms
• moderate to severe alcohol or drug abuse
• severe eating disorders
• repeated “acute” crises (e.g., occurring once a month or more frequently)

Certain situations, including emergencies and mental health crises, are inappropriate for audio/video/computer based counseling services. These include:
• thoughts of hurting or killing myself or another person;
• hallucinations;
• being in a life threatening or emergency of any kind;
• having uncontrollable emotional reactions; and/or
• being under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

A Counseling Services staff member will identify and discuss symptoms which may not be appropriate for teletherapy services and if advised assist me in obtaining a referral for an outside provider who can better meet my needs at this time.

Distance therapy sessions will be offered over Doxy.me, which works much like Skype or Zoom. Doxy.me is a telemedicine video conferencing website that was created for doctors and therapists to privately and confidentially video chat with their patients. It is compliant with both HIPAA and the HITECH Act (Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act).

Tips for a successful and effective teletherapy session:
Following these general guidelines will help to ensure a positive videoconference experience:

1. Create a confidential and private space where you will not be interrupted and your conversation will not be overheard. Consider creating white noise outside the doorway, and use headphones or earbuds.
2. Use the biggest screen size available to you (i.e. a laptop rather than a phone). Ensure that the device is stable and the camera level with your eyes. Make sure that you’re well-lit with no bright light source directly behind you.
3. If you are using a tablet or phone, sit in a stationary position (do not walk around with it) in order to maintain your privacy and create a steady video stream and prevent delays or disruption in video stream.
4. Clear your internet by closing out of any programs you don’t need. (For more detailed instructions, watch the video at https://personcenteredtech.com/tmh/clients.)
5. Recognize that eye contact can be difficult to establish via videoconference, even if your counselor is trying.
6. Wear appropriate clothing as if you were attending an in-person counseling session.