Executive Director of the Samaritan Counseling Center of Southwest Georgia
With “social distancing” and “shelter-in-place” mandates in effect, the world may be feeling a lot less interactive and a lot smaller. These are phrases we didn’t even have a need for prior to the past two months. But, just because people are staying home more does not mean that the problems of everyday life have subsided or disappeared. For those already experiencing the effects of depression, anxiety, relationship conflicts, or just feeling overwhelmed, the current situation can compound what was already there. There is hope. You can still address the needs or concerns that need to be addressed but may not be sure how to do this.
While the current Corona-virus situation directly affects every aspect of everyday life, technology has been an incredible asset. This is especially true in the counseling field. Tele-therapy has been a smooth transition for those in need to continue meeting with their therapist without missing a beat.
Tele-therapy has many benefits.
Continuity of health care. Even with social distancing in place, it has been possible to continue meeting the behavioral health and mental health needs of those in our community. For most clients, as long as they are comfortable with connecting through video or phone call, there will be no lapse in their care. If a student goes off to college they can continue working with the same therapist. If you’re out of town or traveling for work, your session doesn’t have to be interrupted. (Although, I would suggest don’t do counseling while you’re on vacation unless it’s an emergency. Enjoy your time away).
Effective use of time. Tele-therapy makes it possible to attend counseling from the comfort of your own home. Travel time and wait time are reduced. For some clients, this is a great benefit, if they can attend counseling without having to take additional time off of work or school to attend a session. The actual time of attending a session is reduced. You can eat while you’re talking. Your therapist won’t even care if you’re eating a hot fudge Sunday during your session.
Privacy. Privacy is still in effect. Counseling should always be confidential and the use of HIPAA-compliant technology ensures this will continue. Whether the session is video or phone call, the therapist should be implementing a safe place to carry on the session. However, where the client elects to conduct their part of the session is up to them. You also don’t have to worry about running into your neighbor in the waiting room (although now you may run into your neighbor if you’re outside talking on the phone).
Cost. In most cases, there is no additional cost to tele-therapy. Prior to the current Corona-virus situation, a lot of insurance companies did not cover tele-therapy, but for now, this has changed. Most insurance coverage will reimburse for tele-therapy, for now. You’ll still have to pay copayments or deductibles if you have a health plan. You may also save money by not missing work and no travel costs. There is also no additional cost for equipment or technology, all you need is a cell phone, lap top, or tablet, and Wi-Fi which most of us already have.
Fewer cancellations. Even if you’re sick, you can still attend a tele-therapy session. Your therapist probably doesn’t want to watch you puke into the wastebasket but if you’ve got a cold, you can still keep your session. Both the therapist and the client can talk in the safety of their own locations.
Greater access. Some clients who may be bound by physical limitations, transportation concerns, or medical conditions can still see their therapist. Bed-ridden clients or those with chronic conditions can see their therapist even on bad days.
Even in times of uncertainty, there can still be consistency in health care. During this current situation, the Samaritan Counseling Center continues to quality professional counseling services through tele-therapy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed or defeated, seek out a pastor or trained professional. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Samaritan Counseling Center at 229-243-1633.