How to get the most out of your video counseling sessions
Video counseling or therapy are becoming increasingly popular and are here to stay--great news for millions who don't have easy access to the kinds of services they need to keep their lives running smoothly or to get back on track when derailed by mental health or emotional issues. Video counseling, aka telehealth, is easy, effective, and offers unparalleled privacy and convenience. Here are a few tips for ensuring a quality experience that is safe, effective, and meets your expectations.
- Only work with a licensed professional--it is illegal to offer counseling, therapy, psychotherapy, clinical social work, and similar services without a degree from an accredited degree program and a state license in most US states. You can easily look up the telehealth provider online through their state's licensing board online to check licensing status and to view any ethics or legal violations in their history. While relatively rare, some unlicensed and untrained individuals posing as mental health professionals advertise services illegally. Many professionals display their
- Find an experienced telehealth provider with specialized telehealth training for delivering effective care via online video. Ask the provider about their telehealth training, background, and amount of experience--ask them what percentage of their clientele are video versus in-office.
- It is generally unwise to work with a provider who is located in another state. A provider must be licensed in the state as the client's residence (in most states).
- If you value privacy and professionalism, be sure to ask about the specific video conferencing app used by the provider. Many professionals advertise Skype and Facetime counseling/therapy, but seem to be unaware or ignore the fact that these two popular apps do not currently meet the standards in the federal privacy laws known as HIPAA, designed to protect your Private Health Information. There are a number of free video conferencing apps that do meet the HIPAA privacy rules. Ask the provider if the app they use is "HIPAA-compliant." If they are unsure, you may want to seek out a provider who is more knowledgable and experienced.
- At least a day before your first session, test your camera and audio within the video conferencing app, and troubleshoot and issues.
- Familiarize yourself with the control settings.
- Write down your video app password in a secure place so you can access your account without any last minute frustration of retrieving lost passwords.
- Close any unnecessary programs and apps in your browser...
- Keep a pair of headphones/earbuds handy in case of echo/feedback--plugging in headphone usually resolves it immediately.