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The future of online therapy looks bright—and convenient. For patients and clinicians alike, the ability to treat mental health issues from afar could save time, money, and lives.
With the COVID pandemic, the world started moving towards teletherapy. It is becoming a popular new form of therapy because both patients and clinicians can do it from their homes and can have consultations at all times using electronic technology.
It’s not easy to quantify what exactly is “here to stay” in the world of mental health, but some things seem more confident than others. Much like email, texting, Twitter, and Facebook before it, online therapy is here to stay.
Teletherapy is as Effective as Traditional Therapy.
Today, online therapy is one of the hottest areas of the mental health world. At first, very few people were enthusiastic about teletherapy or believed it could match in benefits to face-to-face sessions. But that opinion has drastically changed as research has proven that online therapy provides the same quality of care.
Surveys show consumers are receptive to online therapy: no driving to an appointment, no searching for a parking space, no worries about childcare while they’re away, no need to switch providers if they move, and no problem if the specialist happens to be far away.
With teletherapy, you can get all the necessary information to complete the evaluation and even create a strong rapport with your client.
Make Sure to Comply With State Licenses.
Many therapists have done psychological evaluations in states where they are not licensed and had no problems. It’s possible, and sometimes immigration lawyers promote this practice.
However, only your licensing board has the power to suspend or revoke your license. Therefore, no matter what anybody else does or says, it’s essential to be careful and make sure you’re complying with your state’s board’s regulations.
Also, since immigration evaluations are part of federal cases, many clinicians believe they are not bound to state lines, especially teletherapy. However, it’s widely thought that you cannot work with clients outside of the state you’re licensed to practice in, even if it happens to be a teletherapy session.
A Few Tips to Improve your Online Therapy Sessions
Many clinicians are feeling overwhelmed with the rapid changes. The truth is that it’s time to take advantage of the opportunity technology is providing—instead of fighting it. That’s why mental health care providers must follow the best telehealth practices to meet patient demand adequately.
I’ve outlined some easy ways you can create a positive experience for patients through online therapy:
- Check your technology: Make sure of the quality of your webcam and microphone. You can see if there is a problem by taking a test call and see how that goes. Also, it’s highly suggested to use a headset rather than a built-in mic because it greatly improves the level of accuracy. And, of course, you should verify that your internet and wireless quality are adequate and that you have a backup in case they go down.
- Make it personal: You need to be able to make eye contact on camera. The key to making it look natural is to make sure the webcam is in the right place—at your eye level. Also, a conversational tone is vital.
- Make it Professional: It’s also important to account for the basics of video production and how lighting works. A classic mistake is leaving the light on behind us, shinning toward the camera. You can solve this easily using a desk lamp to bounce light off the wall in front of you.
- Informed consent and confidentiality: Aside from ensuring that the client is aware of the risks and benefits of teletherapy, clinicians must also obtain informed consent and ensure that clients have adequate mental capacity before engaging in therapy using any form of communication other than traditional face-to-face sessions.
- Don’t leave your self-care behind: A great part of self-care is maintaining good boundaries, both inside and outside of client sessions. It’s important to establish a clear line of demarcation between work time and personal time. And have plenty of time between each scheduled client.
What the Future Holds for Online Therapy?
Advances in technology have an incredible power to improve the way that we perform even the most routine tasks. In recent years, these advances have begun to revolutionize several industries, including mental health care.
There is no doubt that the use of technologies to support, enhance and extend the mental health practice will continue to evolve.
As clinicians, we need to consider that if we do not use the technologies now available to us, we risk falling behind the competition and failing to meet the requirements for mental health best practices.
The question is no longer if technologies have a place in our mental health practice, but how to meet the challenge to adapt and equip ourselves to deal with urgent mental health needs associated with COVID-19 and beyond.
I’m Cecilia Racine, and I teach therapists how to help immigrants through my online courses. As a bilingual immigrant myself, I know the unique perspective that these clients are experiencing. I’ve conducted over 500 evaluations and work with dozens of lawyers in various states. Immigrants are my passion, I believe they add to the fabric of our country.
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