All About Virtual Therapy


Thanks so much for joining me for session. One fifth of the therapy for black girls podcast as many people are now beginning to work with their therapist. Virtually a might be looking so work with the therapist for the first time it will be meeting with them. Virtually I thought it'd be a great time to rewind and share this interview. I did with Melissa Douglas again as she has been providing virtual services in her Saint Louis Practice for the past couple of years. Melissa is the owner of goal driven counseling a private Tele Mental Health counseling practice where she supports teens and millennials challenging educational career and life transitions through secure videoconferencing. She's a native of Chicago Illinois but has called St Louis Missouri home for almost a decade. She's a proud Triton who received a best of social work degree master of social work degreen and also as a ticket in nonprofit management in leadership from the University of Missouri Saint Louis. She's a licensed clinical social worker and a distance credentialed counselor who has diverse volunteer work experience with us in juvenile detention community based and educational settings. Melissa and I discussed some of the differences between traditional in virtual therapy. How you can decide if it's right for you how to find a virtual therapist and she shared all of her favorite APPs for Mensa weld is if you hear something that resonates with you are listening. Please share with us on social media using the HASHTAG. Tgi In session. Here's our conversation. Thank you so much for joining us today. Listen thank you for having me Dr Joy. I'm very happy you were able to join us today. Because I know there have been a lot of questions about people looking Virgil at therapy or if they live like in a town that's further from a big city and they're not like a lot of therapists they're people are wanting to know do therapist offer virtual action so. I know that you have a completely online practice and this way correct. Yes so you are the perfect person to talk with us about some of these concerns so I can you tell us a little bit. About what virtual therapy is and how? It might be different from traditional therapy. Yes so it's very basic in so we're gonNA talk about has basically tele mental health and virtual therapy because there's a whole other section of just telemedicine that covers a lot of different professionals by talents evolve. Israeli when the clinician and the client are in different physical locations using technology to communicate pretty much and so it's referred to eat therapy virtual therapy online therapy distance counseling. And what I tell. Clients is Dora virtual counseling or virtual therapy sessions. We can do almost everything other than I can't handle a tissue if you start to cry at a time and I can't be a physical support in a crisis but because I use all video and actual platform designed for telehealth. It helps me to have the same relationship report to be developed and the resources to be used. Because I can share my screen. With people's we can work through resources things together in actually see worksheets and stuff like that. I can have more than one person in a session with me. So couples counseling family. Counseling can be just the same as as traditional therapy but when you talk about Tele Mental Health. There are other options other than video. So you have phone counseling as well as a synchronous methods. Such as email and text based counseling. And so all that means is that you there are not live communicating. So you may send a message and you have to wait until the counseling therapists can respond to that. And then you go back and forth that way. And so with those methods there has to be a comfort with communicating fillings in POPs in a in a written format but the largest difference. Is that the responsibility of ensuring privacy of the session is a little bit more shifted to the client because they're in their own space but I always share that tell them will help isn't better or superior methods to traditional counseling. It's really all about appropriateness and our preference so it sounds like it is very similar to coming into the Office for therapy except that you might be in your home. Like in Pajama Bottoms. So what kind of feedback have you gotten from your clients? Melissa about whether be you know like like it better or worse than traditional therapy. Like what kind of feedback have you gotten so again like I said it's all about preference but I received a lot of great from our clients because again because I use the video base we really are able to establish the same relationship and report because we can still see and feel each other's personality we can hear the to- now with the end we can see affect from each other and so it's a little bit more van just communicating written format? And so we're able to really Bill at relationship. They also enjoy the flexibility. It allows in their schedules as well as the convenience of just having to log on. And I'm right there. They don't have to travel or really fit it into their schedule. In addition to travel and things like that but I always share with people who are a little bit unsure about telehealth. Because you know honestly it's it's still a fairly new thing. It's been around for about thirty years and we talk about the telemedicine space but for Tele mental health. I think it's gaining more traction in the last ten years more visibility and so. I always tell people that it's been researched for effectiveness in solid in the early two thousands. There were a lot of different studies but a couple that I like. I like to share is added. Two thousand one. A study was conducted by the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University. Here in Saint Louis. So patients quickly adapt and establish report because the basics of relationship building. Is there with telehealth? And then there was another one another study done in two thousand five by a psychologist from northwestern university who conducted trials that show that clients living with depression tended to stay in counseling longer and saw a larger reduction in symptoms by participating on counseling. And so I like people to know that. There is research back to the effectiveness of elements of health and virtual. Yeah I mean and I'm glad you brought that up right. Because that he is I think another benefit of virtual therapy is you know sometimes one of the more significant symptoms of depression is like not wanting to move and not wanting to leave your house so if you can talk with your therapist via you know your laptop or your tablet then you can still participate in treatment in you know may receive some benefits from the treatment that you wouldn't have if you stayed home. Yeah absolutely as well as the social anxiety is as well and we know that. That's the largest mental health illness in the world and so police will stay in the US and so that's also a great benefit as well. And I think it is important for us to mention that this is not jumping on facetime with your therapist right so it's not like your therapist will just facetime call you and you just answer. These are very are at least therapist should be using hippo compliant software and platforms that will increase the security of the session. Correct absolutely yes. Yeah so there are precautions that your therapist should be taking but like you mentioned you know like if you decide to have your session and you know your partner is like right next to you. Then you're compromising you're all confidentiality but your therapist is taking the repercussions. They need to make sure the session is. Yes absolutely. You got you okay. So what kinds of consideration should somebody consider if they're thinking about virtual therapy like what kinds of things might be WANNA think about? Yes so I always say that. The virtual therapy is the method in which we're doing the actual therapy. You definitely want to consider the expertise of the clinician if their focus is what you need and saw. You WanNa make sure that that the actual option is not the main thing that the person if you're experiencing depression or anxiety that that actual clinician that's offering the virtual therapy specializes in those things. Another huge thing because of the the lack of geographical barriers would tell them it's a health. We WanNa make sure that the commission has licensed in the state that you resign him because legally required men. So that's a misconception that a lot of people have is that because we give us our phones or computers and things like that that we can work with anybody and that's not true. Also I tell people to do a real self assessment and consider if they would be comfortable sansom on from a distance the end because the confident the impact of separate therapeutic space is really important to some people in Psalm as well as thinking about if you have a support person that is is nearing assessable if there is ever an emergency situation and so that's not something that was mentioned yet but emergency planning. It's something that is very important when it comes to tell them health because if a client were to experience at some time some suicidal thoughts or things like that there has to be an emergency management plan in place that that usually includes a emergency support person near the town of triage. That with the therapist in the end client should be feel free to access their tele mental health therapist or counselor has completed any chiming in so some states required in Psalm. Donning in you also share that you know it's not just jumping on facetime call. Any really really speaks to the clinician operating in their areas of competence. Which is a a safeguard for the client and the client should be comfortable and aware of talking about that with the clinician. Yeah and like you said all the states don't require it but you know it does feel like most therapist who are doing significant amount of virtual. Therapy are tele. Mental Health have completed at least some like trainings in maybe even some additional certifications. Yes yeah so. Can you talk a little bit more about the emergency planning because I know that that is something that often comes up and I think something that you know frightened some therapists away from maybe wanting to do elements? Health is like okay. We'll do I do in case of an emergency. So can you talk a little bit about with their processes like with you? And your clients. Yes so assessment of fit is very important so when a client contacts me for consultation. We're having that initial call. I'm usually doing a brief assessment at that time and so I'm assessing if they are at high risk of currently having suicidal thoughts or have had a plan or intent also assessing for any homicide Any active substance use Any delusions around technology and so that means some people experience thoughts and things that someone is spying on their computer things like that. So that wouldn't be comfortable in a therapeutic face if that's some concerns as well as some complex traumas in some those are some things that I quickly assess floor in consultation with also the assessment phase and so with the emergency planning share with clients that if any safety issue were to come up and we'll just speak about the the suicidal thoughts and things like that. If that was ever be concerned that I definitely openly share with them. That is my ethical responsibility to call the police to do a wellness check and things like that but I also wanted to be a little bit more comfortable for them too so we talk about any support people that they have in their life that has click access to them. And so if it is a spouse work is a parent that they would give me permission to disclose and contact them and say that. I am their therapist in Bay are having a very hard time right now and if they could check on them. I remain on the phone or in a session with my client during that time but then I also triage with the support. Person is what okay so it is very similar to what you would do if you were meeting with the person in your office absolutely but unfortunately they have the ability to hang up and disconnect right thank you know they have the Leave your office. Like I've had clients that leave. You know like just abruptly into session if you know things are not going the way they want us something. So they're still option even in real life. That's true yeah so Melissa does insurance. Pay For ritual therapy yes. There are many insurance companies that pay for virtual usually equivalents of the cost traditional but it varies state to state and it also varies between insurance companies as well and so I always tell people the best thing to do is to contact their ensure to ask about the the details of their specific plans. Okay Okay and so if that is something that is going to be like a priority like if using your insurance

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