Did you know that 30 percent of Americans have seen a therapist during the COVID-19 crisis? And, according to the same health insurance statistics, an additional 19 percent of citizens say they’re considering therapy.
These record-breaking numbers have hit an all-time high.
But with social isolation and economic instability affecting many people’s mental health, it’s no wonder therapy and counseling have become more popular and in-demand than ever. Many people with pre-existing mental conditions have admitted to struggling even more during the pandemic. In contrast, others say their mental health has suffered more than ever before due to stress, loneliness, and relying on substances to cope.
When brick-and-mortar businesses shut down during the lockdown, therapists had to find a way to pivot. And many of them introduced teletherapy for the first time. As it quickly gained popularity during the early stages of the pandemic, questions were raised about how to best provide therapy from a distance.
If you’re wondering how to set your teletherapy sessions up for success to ensure that your patients are getting the most out of their telehealth, you’re in the right place.
Whether you’re just getting started with teletherapy or want to optimize your delivery, below are some best practices to get you up and running fast.
Create a Conducive Space
It’s vital to conduct your video therapy sessions in a professional setting, just as you would if a patient was visiting you in your practice. Creating a calm and conducive space is vital for a successful telehealth session. However, this is often easier said than done if you’re working from home.
The first step is to make sure you’re holding your teletherapy sessions in a place without any distractions. Start by creating a designated office space that’s separate from the rest of your household where you won’t be interrupted. If needed, you can also use a “therapy-in-session” doorknob sign to let those outside the room know that they shouldn’t interrupt you.
Don’t have a dedicated office space? Then you’ll have to find a way to minimize the distractions around you as best as you can. Ensure that your surroundings are professional and uncluttered at all times. If you have children, consider holding teletherapy sessions while they’re in school or asleep. That’s the beauty of telehealth — you can operate outside of traditional hours.
Create a Realistic Experience
Investing time and money in making your space feel similar to an in-person therapy session will help your patients feel at ease.
Above all, this means using equipment with both high-quality video and sound. A computer with a built-in high-resolution webcam and microphone will do the trick, or you can invest a bit of money in an external webcam and headset. You’ll also want to ensure that your internet speed is fast enough because nothing is more distracting than a screen that’s constantly lagging or freezing.
The goal is to have your teletherapy sessions feel professional and very similar to face-to-face encounters. To help with this, consider adding touches of paintings on the walls, proper lighting, and a cozy rug to help the patient feel at ease. Anything will do, as long as your patients can’t see that you’re holding teletherapy sessions with your bedroom or kitchen in the background if you don’t have a home office.
Invest in a Reliable Software Solution
You’ve likely already heard or read about the horror stories of random people showing up in the middle of Zoom teletherapy sessions. With privacy being a top priority, this is any therapist’s nightmare. You’ll need to invest in a reliable software solution that protects the privacy of your patients at all times.
Aside from confidentiality, there are also other important factors to consider when choosing a software provider. Look for a high-quality, expandable video feed that can fit on your entire video screen. Remember, the last thing you want is for your patients to feel a disconnect because of technology. A crisp, clear video provides a more realistic therapy experience.
Your software solution should also improve the patient-provider relationship by minimizing medical paperwork whenever possible. The last thing you need is patients feeling inconvenienced with lengthy online consent forms to get started. An ideal software service will solve this issue with a quick electronic telehealth consent form before each appointment. Your patients will thank you.
IntakeQ offers all of the above capabilities and more, including end-to-end confidentiality encryption, a better intake experience, smoother day-to-day operations, and a secure messaging portal to exchange documents with patients.
Will Teletherapy Still Exist After the Pandemic?
Therapists and clients alike have settled into the teletherapy rhythm during the pandemic. Not only has therapy become more accessible, but many people have become more open to seeking help. Therapists and counselors have also quickly realized that video therapy enables them to see more clients outside of office hours and they’re able to work from virtually anywhere in the world. With that in mind, it’s clear that these sessions are here to stay in a post-COVID world.
Looking for an efficient teletherapy experience? Sign up for an IntakeQ account and take advantage of the telehealth feature.