The team at Center for Shared Insight, based in Colorado, recognizes that online counseling wasn’t something we heard much about before the coronavirus pandemic. If you are exploring your options to start therapy during this time, you might be asking yourself “what is video therapy?” or “what is a virtual therapist?” We understand that all forms of web-based therapy might feel new and even confusing to you. This blog post aims to answer your most frequently asked questions.
What is online counseling? What is online therapy like?
Online therapy is essentially no different than regular therapy, minus the use of technology to facilitate your session. Similar to in-person sessions, we start by doing a thorough assessment, discuss therapy goals, and together we plan what and how we will work to meet your therapy goals. We help you develop skills to cope, manage and change newly developed or long-standing patterns, resulting in enhanced mood, less overwhelm and anxiety, and improved relationships.
Our secure video technology makes this all possible. We will get you set up and comfortable with using our HIPAA compliant platform, which uses a password and other precautions to ensure your privacy. Our team of seasoned therapists are dedicated to helping you feel comfortable, just like we would in our office. Nonverbal information, such as facial expressions and body language are all visible and utilized in the video session, similar to in-person sessions.
Does online therapy work? Is online counseling effective? Are online therapy sessions as effective as in-person therapy?
It’s natural to question whether online therapy is as effective as sitting across from a therapist where it’s easy to read body language and non-verbal cues. All of our therapists have completed training in teletherapy and are skilled at helping clients with a range of presenting concerns, such as anxiety, depression, difficulty adjusting to stress around COVID-19 and job loss, pregnancy and being a new parent, trauma, and relationship issues, such as conflict, difficulty communicating, enhancing sexual functioning and satisfaction, and premarital counseling. Plus, research shows that online therapy is just as effective as in-person sessions.
With so much of life transitioning to digital opportunities, including work and your favorite fitness classes, therapy is no different. Not to mention, online therapy can save you time and money, with easier access, which can make maintaining a consistent schedule with your therapist possible.
Is online therapy HIPAA compliant? Is online therapy safe?
While HIPAA compliance is changing during the coronavirus outbreak, we can assure you that we maintain strict compliance with a secure video platform. You can ensure additional security by choosing a private space for your sessions, which could even be in your car or backyard if you want to maintain confidentiality from even your own family members. Noise machines and fans outside a room in your house can enhance privacy as well. We can work with you to schedule therapy at a time when you may have more privacy too -- like when your partner is out of the house or on a conference call for work. Or, your session can be scheduled while your kids are attending online school sessions, napping or in bed, or have their planned “screen time”. Once you’re an established client, you can even do a phone session with your therapist while on a walk outside.
What do you say when you email a therapist before making an appointment?
Contacting a therapist for the first time can feel a little foreign and uncomfortable. Many people aren't really sure what to say or not say. The good news is, you can say as much or as little as you feel comfortable. You can keep it simple and just say you are interested and list some good times to reach you, or you could share more, such as the problems you would like help with. Rest assured that our intake coordinator will get more information when they call you back to learn more in order to set you up with a therapist who is the right fit for you.
How much is online therapy? Will online therapy cost the same?
While the online session rate is the same as our in-person session rate, your cost is actually lower when you consider all the variables that go into making therapy happen. Traditionally, you meet your therapist in his or her office, a commitment that includes drive time, traffic, gas in your vehicle, and possibly even care for your kids. A 50-minute session could end up taking two hours of your time with all that time included. Online therapy is more efficient and requires minimal planning. It also simplifies the logistics of couples therapy when multiple schedules need to be coordinated.
How is online therapy with a practice different from online therapy through a service like talkspace, betterhelp, and 7cups?
There are dozens of options for online therapy with apps and platforms emerging as an option that serve a wide audience. Apps like BetterHelp, Talkspace, and 7cups do their best to match you up with a therapist you can live chat, talk, or text with, but you don’t have the opportunity to interview and choose your therapist in the same way. You are limited to shorter sessions and, overall, there is more of a cookie-cutter approach as a way for those platforms to service such a great number of clients nationally. They tend to be better with simpler issues, like coping with a life change or, as opposed to the specialized and individualized care we provide for ongoing, challenging emotional issues that individuals and couples experience. We know that successful therapy begins with the right fit between you and your therapist, which is more difficult to achieve without working with a therapist who is specialized in the area you are wanting to work on. Plus, when we eventually return to "normal" life, you have the opportunity to meet with your therapist in person if you would like to, whereas this is never possible with online therapy through these apps.
Can I see my therapist in person once I start online sessions?
Once the “stay at home” order has come to an end and it’s safe to reopen businesses, it’s possible to transition online sessions to in-person sessions, if you prefer. We’ll still practice social distancing and other precautions in office, but we can provide a seamless transition to more traditional face-to-face therapy. The ability to deepen the working relationship you have with your therapist by transitioning to onsite sessions long-term is a benefit over talkspace, betterhelp, and other digital therapy platforms that are strictly online.
Can I continue with online sessions after the lockdown is over?
Our team is flexible and strives to meet the unique needs of each client. If you are benefiting from online sessions, we can continue to service you in that way after the stay-at-home order ends. Online therapy will continue to be a convenient alternative after the shelter in place order lifts, such as if you or your kids are at home sick, during a snow-day, if you got stuck at work late, or if your partner didn’t get off work in time to join your couples therapy session in-person.
Do you have additional questions not answered here? Contact our team of therapists anytime! Our intake coordinator can address any questions and even match you with a therapist based on your needs. We look forward to serving you during this challenging time and providing the support you need during the coronavirus outbreak.