Is Telehealth Right For Me?

As technology is improving, it allows for more accessibility and options for treatment.  For therapy, treatment using a secure video platform allows for a relationship that has been shown to be as effective for treatment as in-person sessions. This is a great option for people in rural areas, as it allows you to choose who you want to work with and to avoid the limitations or discomfort of working with someone in your community. This may be particularly important for medical professionals, mental health clinicians, and other highly visible members in a community who may be reluctant to seek help locally. Telehealth also allows you to choose a clinician with specialized interest and training, rather than having to go to a generalist. With Telehealth you can have the privacy you need while getting the help you want.

Telehealth is also great for people with mobility issues or conditions that make getting to a provider’s office difficult. For some people with anxiety, driving can be very difficult especially in adverse weather or high traffic. Telehealth can also be a good backup option for snow days or occasional medical issues that may make getting into the office difficult. For people close to the local office, we can combine Telehealth and in-person meetings to support regular sessions and patient comfort.

Another important factor to remember is that for now, each state issues licenses independently. There is a new agreement for Psychologists (PSYPACT) where some states are agreeing to respect other state’s licensees. However, each Psychologist will have to get a specific certificate (ePassport) showing that they have the necessary training to use this agreement for Telehealth.

Dr. Jody Kircher is currently licensed in Colorado and Idaho. She uses Telehealth regularly in her practice, currently full-time. Dr. Kircher has completed a 17-hour continuing education certificate course on Telemental Health to make sure that she is trained in all of the main factors involved in providing safe and effective treatment. She uses a secure video application and offers secure messaging and encrypted email as well, to ensure patient confidentiality.

Please see below for common issues to consider when deciding if Telehealth is right for you and preparing for a session:

Safety and Usability Issues

There are some important factors to consider before engaging in Telehealth. You need to make sure that your privacy is protected and that you can use the service effectively. For your safety, it is important to use a provider who is licensed in the state where you are receiving services. You also need to ensure that they are using secure applications. Your provider must inform you of any risks in using Telehealth services. It is also important for you to consider if you have adequate internet speed and privacy on your end. Using headphones for video sessions can help with communication and privacy.

Creating Confidential Space (used with permission from Person Centered Tech)

Things to consider:

  • Is the space private?
  • Can you lock the door?
    • If not, will others who have access to the space respect your request for privacy and not enter the room?
      • Can you/have you had a conversation with them?
      • Were they receptive?
  • Can others outside the room hear you talking?
    • If so, can you create white noise with a fan or other form of background noise? (Preferably placed outside the doorway of the room you’re in)
    • Consider using headphones or earbuds so that your provider’s voice is kept private and is only hearable by you

If you have a hard time finding confidential space, here are some examples that others have used. These are not ideal, but should be considered secondary choices if an ideal setup is not available. If you use any of these, please make sure that the space is comfortable for you. Being comfortable is also highly important.

  • Laundry Room
  • Walk-In-Closet
  • Basement
  • Attic
  • Actual last resort: your car parked in a safe, private spot. (We want to emphasize that private does not mean secluded. Please do make sure you are in a safe location.)

Technical Setup:

  • A laptop or desktop computer is ideal — preferably the biggest screen size that you have available to you (that you can also have in a comfortable, confidential space)
  • If you’re using a tablet or phone, please prop up the device so that it is stable and that the camera is about level with your eyes
  • Whatever device you’re using, please make sure that the camera is about level with your eyes. It may require propping up your device or monitor on other items, such as books.
  • Please make sure that you’re well lit and don’t have a bright light source directly behind you

Clear Your Internet

Be sure to move your computer as close as you can to your WiFi router (the box that makes the WiFi.) Or better yet — plug your computer into the router with a cable!

After that, you’ll want to close out of any programs you don’t need which use your Internet connection. Please visit Person Centered Tech for a video that will show you some examples of doing that and an article that will explain it.

You can also read more about online therapy at https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/online-therapy.aspx.