It seems like every aspect of our routines has been up-ended over the course of the last year. A simple trip to the grocery store looks like something out of a sci-fi novel with people in masks and arrows designating a path through the aisles.
It’s easy to become overstimulated by all the changes and challenges of constant adjustment to daily living. In order to prioritize safety, many common treatment methods have been adapted to accommodate social and safety standards in the wake of the pandemic. Participating in mental health teletherapy can bring about its own series of questions, too. Rest easy knowing that teletherapy can provide more answers than new questions throughout the process.
We’ve taken the time to address 10 of the most popular questions asked about online counseling:
1. How do I set up an appointment for teletherapy?
Call your chosen practitioner to set up an appointment for teletherapy. The phone number should be listed on the website, and many healthcare providers feature prominent teletherapy sign-up portals right through their homepage. Signing up for teletherapy through Rehab After Work is easy and streamlined. If you were already receiving therapy services through a provider, you’ll have an easy time transitioning to online mental health counseling. And if you’re new to the practice, you’ll want to keep insurance information handy when you call to schedule an appointment.
2. Will my insurance cover teletherapy?
Each provider will differ in regard to insurance policies. Many organizations have a list posted online of insurances accepted at the practice (check out our insurance and payment details for more information on individually accepted providers). If your insurance isn’t accepted, many therapy providers have a sliding scale, which offers discounted services based on your ability to cover the cost.
3. What do I need for teletherapy?
You’ll need a device that is able to access the internet and has a webcam. It is important for both you and your counselor to see each other in your session, for both confidentiality and communication purposes. Most smartphones have all the capabilities necessary for teletherapy. Make sure your device is charged for your session and find a comfy and quiet spot to sit and a surface to rest your device on. Make sure your room is well-lit, and have a glass of water nearby.
4. Do I need to download something for teletherapy to work?
Each teletherapy provider uses a different platform to offer services to clients. Most use a specific encrypted software that you’ll need to download after scheduling your first appointment. Most teletherapy platforms offer both in-browser and download options, so you’ll be able to access your session online no matter your technological expertise. At Rehab After Work, we use a HIPAA-compliant platform called BlueJeans, which makes it easy and painless to log in and receive the care you need.
5. How do I know the teletherapy is private?
Service providers use a variety of different software to video conference with clients, and all should meet HIPAA privacy standards. HIPAA is a national privacy mandate that prioritizes the confidentiality of personal health information. Your online counseling provider will make use of a platform that encrypts your personal data.
6. What do I do during teletherapy?
Your teletherapy session should feel like it does during in-person counseling. You’ll have uninterrupted time to share your experiences and work towards your goals with your counselor, and you’ll have their full attention. Although the virtual setting can feel more casual while you’re in your home, don’t try to get things done while you’re in therapy. Leave distractions in another room and ensure that your roommates can give you the time and space to tend to your mental health.
7. What if I have tech issues?
If your internet access cuts out or your computer crashes, keep the phone number of your provider handy and call for next steps. Most technical glitches can be worked out in a few minutes, but your therapist probably has a backup plan in the case that a technical issue prevents you from meeting. In the case that you are unable to connect with your online counselor, try the following steps first.
- Turn your wifi connection on and off on your device
- Log out of the teletherapy platform and log back in
- Turn your device off and on again
- Plug in your device to ensure sufficient battery
- Reset your wifi router
- Try using a different browser
8. What can I expect?
After calling to get set up with services, you’ll schedule your Level of Care Assessment (LOCA) and your first appointment. A LOCA also occurs online and is a conversation intended to gain an understanding of your symptoms and level of need so you can get started with the most appropriate treatment for your needs.
After your LOCA, you’ll start teletherapy according to the treatment option best suited to you and your needs. Once you start teletherapy, your sessions will continue just as in-person therapy would, with regular meetings between you and your therapist.
9. Should I just wait to do therapy until it’s back in person?
Delaying mental health treatment is highly discouraged. According to the American Psychological Association, studies have shown that teletherapy is effective and is highly preferable to no treatment at all. Teletherapy has been proven to offer successful outcomes for a variety of populations and mental health disorders.
Waiting for in-person sessions to resume is a disservice to your overall well-being. Addressing concerns as soon as possible can help to mitigate the negative symptoms of mental illness. Postpointing treatment can even be dangerous in cases of depression, bipolar disorder or other conditions where suicidal ideation may be present. Any clinician would recommend beginning treatment virtually rather than waiting it out.
10. I’m stuck at home, what if I have nothing to talk about?
One of the nice things about any type of therapy is that although it is client-led, your therapist is responsible for keeping the conversation going. Even if it feels like you have nothing new to share, you have an infinite number of past and future experiences to explore. Your therapist is a professional in managing conversations, so the pressure is off. Even silences are intentional and can be healing, so allow space for that as well.
If you’re ready to get started with substance use teletherapy, check out Rehab After Work, an outpatient drug and alcohol treatment program that offers both in-person and virtual services. The addiction specialists at Rehab After Work are well-equipped to answer your questions and guide you through the teletherapy process. Call (610) 644-6464 to set up your first appointment.