The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way our patients receive care and treatment. Throughout the past few months there have been several discussions about the challenge’s for psychologists, therapists, social workers, and other behavioral health personal, but we as providers are aware how challenging transitioning to Telehealth may be for the patients we serve. To ensure you are getting the most from your Telehealth sessions, the following tips are offered:
1. Privacy. When we are not meeting in the office, we as clinicians have less control over ensuring your privacy. To protect your privacy, think about private locations available to you during the time of your appointment. A private location means that no one else is in the room with you or can hear you. Using headphones or adding white noise in the background can also help ensure privacy.
2. Reduce Distractions. Just as being in a private location can ensure privacy, a private location can also help reduce distractions. Having sessions from home creates several possibilities for distractions (childcare, pet care, television, roommates, etc.). Designate an area in your home that is well lit, quiet, and uncluttered, and remember, you only need to stay in this space for 45-50 minutes! For those with children, consider scheduling your appointments when your child is napping or when someone else is available to watch your children.
3. Be on time. It can be easy to lose track of time and forget about your appointment. Being on time for your telehealth appointment means that you are being respectful of your provider and can utilize the full 45-50 minutes of your session. Setting an alarm 15 minutes before your session each week can be a friendly reminder and allow enough time to move to your private location and call your provider at the time of your session.
4. Video Conferencing. If technology is available to you, video conferencing has been shown to be more effective than sessions over a phone call alone, especially for children, adolescents, and older adults. If you do not have access to technology needed for video sessions, do not worry! For older adolescents and adults, phone sessions are appropriate and feasible. Examples of free video conferencing sites include Google Meet, Skype, and Zoom.
5. Appreciate the Small Advantages. Despite the lack of face-to-face contact, there are many ways telehealth has been helpful. We no longer have a commute or need to plan around public transit to get to and from our appointments. Having your weekly appointments from home can be comforting and convenient and it is important to take advantage of some of those benefits (e.g. dressing comfortably).
We at Interact miss seeing our patients around the office and we look forward to the day we can safely re-open. In the meantime, to assure you are getting the most out of your telehealth sessions, follow these tips or discuss them with your provider!
Lauren Truskey, M.S.Ed.
Information adapted from:
Hames, J. L., Bell, D. J., Perez-Lima, L., Holm-Denoma, J., Rooney, T., Charles, N. E., . . . Hoersting, R. C. (2020). Navigating uncharted waters: Considerations for training clinics in the rapid transition to telepsychology and telesupervision during COVID-19. Journal of Psychotherapy Integration, 30(2), 348-365. doi:10.1037/int0000224