Here are some important things every therapist and counselor should do if they are going to be doing telehealth, phone therapy, or any other kind of psychotherapy online.
Telehealth / TeleMental health for counselors and therapists:
1) Make sure you know who is with them or nearby.
It is always important to know who is within earshot and if you do have a confidential
space. In order to do therapy the place needs to be confidential. It is also important for safety to know who is nearby and, if you can, have their contact information so that if you need to make a call for safety you will know who is nearby.
2) Make sure you know where they are.
This is ethically important but also good just to keep in mind for what mental space they are in. For safety this can be extremely important if you need to call someone as well.
3) Make sure you have a plan in case you get disconnected.
We cannot overestimate how annoying this is but also frequent. Their battery dies. The internet drops out. No reason at all. The audio drops out or becomes too delayed to understand them. It seems like calls get disconnected or have technical issues at least a few times a day. It’s important to have a plan of what to do when that happens right from the beginning. This can be as simple as “I’ll you back” or “I’ll wait for you to reconnect to the meeting.” This may be a simple thing but is very important. Especially if it drops out at the wrong time.
This is vital. There are serious exceptions and rules, some obvious and others more nuanced. For example, “Under this noticed covered health care providers that allow for video chats including google hangouts and facebook messenger…some vendors represent that they provide HIPPA-compliant video communication products” this includes zoom for Healthcare and Google G Suite hangouts. There is a lot to know so do as much reading on this as you can.
5) Take some trainings
Even though reading up is important. There is a lot of new skills that need to be learned by doing telehealth or telemedicine some things are just not going to be as easy, reading body language, microexpressions, and small affirmations might even be distracting that would normally be welcome. These and many other things are important to consider in order to make sure the sessions continue to be productive instead of just being stalled out on the daily stressors.
Here are some training that are very in depth if you have the time:
b) Board Certified- Telemental Health Provider training through NBCC.
d) Person Centered Tech Telemental health certificate program