Suffolk Family Therapy is proud to be offering Telehealth services for our current and incoming clients, but we understand that it also may be a foreign concept to our community. We hope to address any questions and concerns you may have about this revolutionary platform for providing and receiving mental health care.
What is Telehealth?
Telehealth is the process of engaging in mental health therapeutic treatment through an online, secure video platform. Telehealth involves a licensed mental health clinician connecting with and providing therapeutic services to clients in need of mental health support and help through a HIPAA-Compliant online video/audio platform. Telehealth is not a new concept, but has been evolving and refining as technology progresses and is now a nearly-comparable experience for certain in-person mental health therapies.
What does Telehealth look like?
The practice and platforms of Telehealth are constantly updating as advancements in technology are made, but the bare bones of Telehealth involves speaking with a live Licensed Mental Health Provider through audio and ideally video. Most Hipaa-compliant platforms facilitate video conferencing, but some go further and provide interactive elements such as a collaborative whiteboard or handout sharing. Mental Health Therapists are trained to operate in a quiet and confidential setting, void of interruptions or people within ear-shot. Tele Therapists encourage their clients to set up a laptop or table with video access in a quiet and private setting in their homes. Clients are typically given a link to open which will give them access to the confidential video conference. Most platforms do not require clients to create a log in or profile, but some may ask for a client to input their name and basic identifying information for therapists to know who is entering the video. Sessions typically last for the standard 45 minutes but may be adjusted based on the specific needs and capabilities of the client. In order for Telehealth to work, both parties need reliable internet access. In cases where reliable internet is not accessible, speaking on the phone may be permitted on a case-by-case basis.
Is it Confidential?
Confidentiality is the state of keeping and maintaining privacy and is the foundational element to mental health therapy that helps clients to feel safe to explore their deepest thoughts, worries, memories, and struggles. Therapists are bound by ethics and the law to maintain confidentiality so long as everyone is physically safe, with a few exceptions involving judge orders and parental rights. Because of the importance of confidentiality, health care companies have developed platforms that align with standards of the national HIPAA Act, which is a legal regulation that establishes the protection of every individual’s personal health information. Because of the HIPAA Act, therapists are unable to utilize less regulated platforms like Facetime and Skype to conduct therapy sessions, as those platforms do not adhere to HIPAA standards. Therapists who conduct Telehealth sessions are enrolled in a specific program that facilitates secure dialogue. These programs are designed to be user friendly and easily accessible to clients with internet.
Would I benefit from Telehealth?
Most mental health providers that offer in-person therapy utilize Telehealth as a “plan B” when faced with circumstances that limit or prohibit face-to-face interaction. Not all types of therapies operate best through telehealth, but many can be effectively conducted through secure online platforms. Licensed Mental Health Providers are trained to discern which therapies would be most effective when conducting therapy through Telehealth. Likewise, a trained and licensed mental health professional will be able to help you navigate your struggles and decide if Telehealth is the appropriate platform to use. Many people do prefer in-person therapy, but Telehealth opens the doors to certain populations that are unable to access in-person therapy due to mental or physical challenges. Likewise, certain environmental or safety circumstances may limit or prohibit in-person therapy as an option, thus making Telehealth a great resource to have available.
If you are struggling with a social, emotional, or mental challenge and are experiencing limitations or hesitations to seeking in-person therapy, Telehealth may be a great option for you. All of our therapists at Suffolk Family Therapy are undergoing trainings and peer supervisions to advance their abilities in providing quality and effective Telehealth services for you and/or your family. In response to the limitations and restrictions caused by COVID-19, our therapists are working diligently to provide Telehealth services for our community. Please reach out today if you or a loved one is in need, and our therapists can help guide you to finding the best fit for the care you need.