Transitioning to Online Therapy:
Our lives have changed, but our dedication to our clients has not. From the convenience of your home you have access to our team of specialized psychologists and therapists who are highly trained and knowledgeable in providing evidence-based teletherapy services. We are here to listen, support, and help you find your strength.
To help you make the adjustment, we put together this guide to help make the transition as seamless as possible.
Read on for what to expect in a teletherapy session, what equipment will make the connection better, and how to set yourself up to make the most of your session!
What is teletherapy?
Teletherapy is a talk therapy session that occurs through video call, rather than in-person. Through teletherapy, you meet with a licensed, qualified therapist via our HIPAA secure online platform doxy.me, from the convenience of your home or other private location.
Equipment to prepare
Fully charged Laptop, desktop, or tablet with webcam and audio connection. If you can, have your device plugged in and charging during your session, or ensure the device is fully charged prior to your session.
Earphones or headphones are strongly recommended to prevent sound echoing and to allow you to fully focus on the conversation with your therapist.
High speed internet: Internet with a bandwidth of at least 10 mbps is recommended for highest quality and to prevent connection issues. To check your internet connection, Google search “internet speed test” and click on the blue button that says “Run Speed Test.” If it shows your wifi is under 10mbps, you may want to restart your router or discuss an alternative option with your provider, such as a phone call.
Your phone as backup: Have your fully-charged phone next to you as back up, in case of any technical difficulties which may require you to switch to a phone call or a different video call platform.
Note: Phones are not recommended for teletherapy for the following reasons:
There are more notifications you’ll need to turn off to avoid disruption during session
Your phone might run out of battery if you are using the jack for earphones rather than charging
The screen is smaller, and therefore offers a less immersive therapy experience.
Environment to prepare
Good lighting: Sit next to the window if possible, or if your appointment is after sunset or in a location without a window, bring in as much artificial light as possible. Moving a desk lamp or standing lamp in front of you can help, as can removing any lighting behind you.
A quiet space: Find a quiet space in your home: ideally in a private room, but in a studio apartment, available closets or the bathroom are also options. Shut windows, doors, and ask other household members to lower the sound of their music speakers.
Privacy: Sharing an apartment or house with other people? Let them know you are having a therapy session (or if you’re not comfortable with that, consider saying a “doctors appointment” or “important private conversation”) and ask them to move to a different room, listen to music, and or use earplugs that block out the noise. Alternatively, you can purchase a white noise machine to muffle what you’re saying. Put a “Do not disturb” note up on your door and lock the door so you don’t have to be worried about being distracted in the middle of your session.
If there is no private, quiet indoor space available to you, consider your outdoor options: if the weather forecast is clear, you might request a phone call from your therapist, which you could take walking around a park (or in your car, if you have one), or another safe, secluded outdoor area.
Sign any documents your therapist sends in advance. You will receive the intake forms via email, please make sure to have them completed, signed, and sent back prior to your first session. Make sure you have this done in advance so you’re not spending valuable session time on paperwork.
Test out the platform.
Doxy.me: Below is Doxy’s How to check in for your video session. Note that Doxy.me requires you to use one of the following internet browsers: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Safari 11+. The video is conducted on your internet browser; no download of software download is necessary.
Getting ready for the appointment
Set up your space. Check your internet connection, and make sure your space is set up comfortably 15min before your appointment. You might sit on a chair in front of a desk or table, or if you’re seated on the ground, a meditation cushion can be a grounding option. As you’re setting up, take this time to start quieting your mind and shift your attention from work, kids, or other commitments to therapy and healing.
Close applications on your desktop, or use a separate new desktop. Close out of any open applications, or, if you have a Mac, use Mission Control to open a new “Desktop space” that is totally clear of programs. If applications are still running, make sure notifications are muted; this can both help with internet speed and also prevent distractions in the middle of your appointment.
Engage the senses: Take a few moments to think about what would feel good to you now. Consider brewing a cup of herbal to sip on during session, spritz some essential oils, or gather up a soft pillow or blanket.
Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and quiet your mind. In the five minutes before session, give yourself a big big breath. You’re here, you’re making time for self-investment, and now all you need to focus on is the therapy session.
Click on the link your provider sent you! Click on the link your provider sent you in advance to launch into session!
Decompressing after the session
Since the commute to therapy is removed for online sessions, it can be easy to jump right back into your home life around you – and harder to really process and register what you just covered with your therapist.
Consider starting a therapy journal and spending as much time as you need or are able to after the session to reflect on what you learned, and to prepare for your next session. This can also help you make the most of your time with your therapist, and make your therapy journey overall more enjoyable.
Does teletherapy even work?
Studies show that teletherapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy sessions for a wide range of mental health challenges. For example, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Psychological Disorders found that online cognitive behavioral therapy was equally as effective as face-to-face treatment for major depression, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Will my health insurance plan cover teletherapy sessions?
Telehealth sessions are covered with our in-network insurance companies: Carefirst and Blue Cross Blue Shield. We are also working on becoming in network with other insurance companies (United Health Care).
Online therapy can be an empowering and accessible way to take care of your mental health, especially during times when it’s not feasible to make a trip to your therapist’s office. And just like in-person therapy, if you are committed to making the most of your therapy time, it can be a rewarding experience with long-term benefits.
To get started with online therapy, please complete the Request for Therapy Services form located here: https://www.thinkhappylivehealthy.com/therapy