Health Wise: Online Counseling during Quarantine

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 04/20/2020 - 10:04

We hope that you’re doing well and staying healthy. It’s a surreal, challenging time all around, and we feel it’s more important than ever for us to reach out with some positive content. This time, we want to focus on online therapy: an option that could be available to help you and your loved ones through the pandemic. 

We know how important it is to focus on our physical health - wash our hands, maintain social distancing, stay home. We also know how important it is to increase our immune resistance to viruses with exercise and healthy eating. But we cannot forget our mental health. In fact, as we’ve stated many times before, mental health and physical health are closely connected - stress, fear, anger, and sadness can all affect our bodies and slow our immune functioning.

Good news - most counselors/therapists are staying open and providing help - just in a new way! Online! 

Online counseling actually isn’t that new of a process. Also known as telehealth, telepsychology, and telebehavioral health, it has been around for some time. It is typically used in unusual circumstances like people moving away or being away for prolonged periods of time but wishing to continue services with their therapist. However, as with many other online resources, online therapy has now gained much more attention due to the need to stay connected and mentally healthy during quarantine. However, as this may be a new idea for many people, we will walk you through what you can expect as well as how to prepare and make the most out of online therapy. 

So, what can you expect with online counseling? 

  • Sessions are usually done by video - or audio in case of poor internet service or client preference. There are HIPAA compliant platforms that your counselor will invite you to join, but clients can also opt for more accessible Apps like FaceTime, Skype, or Zoom.
  • These sessions are quite similar to “normal” face-to-face sessions. Unlike medical services that require some in-person contact (e.g. taking vitals), therapy mostly involves talking, which changes minimally when switched to video. Worksheets and handouts that you may be used to receiving from your therapist, can be emailed in advance. 
  • Your insurance probably covers it! Many insurances have covered it under certain circumstances, and now nearly all insurances have agreed that they will cover online counseling sessions. In fact, some insurances are choosing to waive therapy copays to allow more people to get help during this difficult time! 
  • These sessions can actually grow your therapeutic relationship - you can introduce your therapist to your pets, valuable possessions, and even family members!
  • Some people actually find themselves more comfortable in a virtual setting - teenagers are particularly fond of therapy via devices!
  • Therapy provides social connection many of us are missing during this quarantine!
  • Online counseling can also provide a bit of “me time”, especially if you live in a home where multiple family members are quarantined together.

How to prepare to get the most out of online counseling: 

  • Expect it to feel different at first but know that is okay. Most change is uncomfortable does. It’s strange for us therapists, too! But after we got past the initial “well, this is different” reaction, we quickly saw this start to feel normal. 
  • Find a place in your home that feels safe and secure to you. White noise machines placed outside doors help keep the session private form household members. Sessions can be done from the back yard, during a walk, or even in the car, if needed.
  • If you aren’t particularly used to technology, take a moment to get comfortable with whatever software you end up needing to use. Your therapist or their support staff can probably help, as can the software companies, which still have active tech support!

Online therapy is a great resource during this difficult time. We are thrilled that insurance companies have stepped up to support mental health, and that we can support our clients through this pandemic safely.

Maria Karimova MS LLP's picture