By: Zanna Haney M.A., LPC-Intern, Supervised by Heather McPherson M.A, LPC-S, LMFT-S, CST
This is a time when everything is moving to online platforms and digital media. This is something that we are accustomed to in other areas of our life, especially in the era of social media. However, it’s not something that many are familiar with when it comes to therapy. Due to the current pandemic, therapists and clients alike are both having to adjust to a new normal of teletherapy, and it’s brought uncertainty and anxiety for many. These concerns are natural. None of us have ever experienced a pandemic; it’s something that is new and unknown to all of us. However, we’re here to address some of the concerns about teletherapy.
• Myth 1: My information will not be secure
Teletherapy has been around long before the Coronavirus19 pandemic emerged. There are several secure platforms that therapists use that protect your information. Many therapists, myself included, have a Business Associates Agreement (BAA) with the telehealth platform that they use. A BAA agreement provides an added layer of protection for both the therapist and the client to provide secure video services. It certifies that the video platform company provides both administrative and human safeguards to avoid data breaches. There are several teletherapy video platforms that offer secure video conferencing and the added security through a BAA. Doxy, VSee, Zoom, and TheraNest are among the ones that therapists often use, including Respark. You may ask your therapist if they have a BAA agreement signed with the telehealth platform they use, to provide you with more security and ease your anxiety regarding online platforms.
• Myth 2: I am unable to have a teletherapy session at home, due to limited privacy
This has been a common concern we have seen during the switch to teletherapy, and it is valid. However, there are many ways to get creative during this time to allow for additional privacy. If you are able, you can choose to take your teletherapy session from your car. I know this is not always an option for people, especially if they have children at home and are the primary or only caregiver. Therefore, I have found it helpful with my clients to use the chat feature, that telehealth platforms provide. It allows the client to let their therapist know what they would like to discuss, without actually saying the words out loud, for fear that their children may hear them. Then the therapist and client can talk around the subject verbally, without actually verbally naming it out loud. In addition, the chat feature is a great way for therapists and clients to create a code word system for their teletherapy sessions. An example may be sex=coloring (my Sex and the City fans will get that reference) or OMG=my kids are driving me wild right now. Instead of saying verbally, “When my partner and I had sex last night, I felt triggered,” you could say “When my partner and I colored last night, I felt triggered.” Another example could be “I have felt overwhelmed lately, OMG, and it’s really caused me to feel irritable.” This is something that can take a bit of time to get used to, but it really allows clients to continue receiving help during this trying time while protecting their privacy.
• Myth 3: Teletherapy is not as effective as in-person therapy
Research has shown that teletherapy is an effective form of therapy, and can provide the same level of results as in-person therapy. In addition, teletherapy can often remove many of the barriers that get in the way of people attending therapy. A very common barrier is commuting to a therapy office, which many people in Austin or Denver know, can be a nightmare if you are trying to get to your therapy session at 6 p.m., after work, during rush hour traffic. There is also the aspect of experiencing some nervousness about going into a physical office and sitting in a waiting room. The option of teletherapy can help create security for an individual and give them the safety and comfort of attending the therapy session from their own living room, or a private place.
Although teletherapy may be different from what you are used to, it is an effective and helpful way to continue receiving the assistance and support that we all need right now. Please let us know if you have other questions or would like to speak with us about scheduling an initial telehealth session.
Contact us to schedule an appointment 512-537-0922.