A Word About Therapy in the COVID-19 Era
These are very uncertain times--indeed, unprecedented. "Social distance" may be necessary, but emotional distance is devastating. Shutdowns, isolation, layoffs, job losses, and the fear of serious illness are truly frightening and can stress even the strongest relationships. Emotional closeness and connection with loved ones is our best coping mechanism. But these difficult times are taking a toll and many couples are struggling like never before. Couples therapy is a great resource. But therapy has always been a "face to face" proposition, and in these "COVID times," face to face is just the setting we're being told to avoid. In the past, Corona virus best practices might have made psychotherapy impossible. But that isn't the case today. We have other options. Video based counseling is a great option for couples who want to be safe and still get help. I'm glad to be able to offer that to my therapy clients.
Video based psychotherapy is a growing trend that will only become more common with time. Clearly, it has advantages. It allows us to work "together, but apart." During this unique community health crisis, it may be the best (if not the only) way for many couples to get help. But, video counseling isn't perfect; it is not the same as being face to face with you. It isn't a good fit for everyone. It is my responsibility, at the outset, to determine whether your presentation, mental status and clinical acuity are appropriate for video based counseling. If at any time during our work it appears that such is not the case, I will do my best to provide or direct you to alternative services.
But, what about privacy and security? I will make every effort to safeguard both. We will use Zoom, a HIPPA (Health Information Privacy and Portability Act) compliant online service for your video counseling. Go to www.Zoom.us to sign in and learn more about this service. There is no extra charge to you for using Zoom. I pay that cost. Prior to our meeting, I will email you a Zoom meeting invitation link. You will use that to log into our session. Zoom is encrypted to the federal standard and I have a business associate agreement with them.
You are responsible for securing your device/network from your end to protect your privacy. You will need a device (laptop, tablet or PC) with a camera, a microphone, a speaker and a screen large enough for you to view comfortably (a smartphone screen will be too small). I encourage you to use only a network and/or device that you know is safe from the threat of hacking or eavesdropping. At the beginning of each session, I will confirm that your connection is good and we will establish a backup means of contact if that video conference link goes down for some reason (it happens occasionally; no technology is flawless). I will also confirm your exact location at the start of each session. (Except in unusual circumstances, you and your partner will be in the same room together during therapy.)
During the session:
Please be in a private space, as free as possible from distraction or interruption, focused fully on your therapy, just as if you were in my office.
I'll ask both of you to be in your camera's field of view, adequately lit and with minimal background noise (preferably NOT in your bedroom).
Please sit so that you can face one another.
Please do not record the session without my consent.
Please insure that no one else is in the room besides you and your partner.
Payment for your counseling can be made through PayPal. A link is near the bottom of my website home page. Note: I will ask you to pay prior to the session and I’ll remind you of that in the meeting invitation email. At the outset of our counseling, I will invite you to sign a form acknowledging that we have discussed this and that you consent to video counseling.
"Telehealth" will likely become more and more common in the years to come, for all manner of healthcare delivery. Psychotherapy is just one way that this technology can benefit those who need it. Feel free to raise any questions or concerns with me. Technology always involves a "learning curve." I'm learning too. Hopefully, we can learn this new medium together to help your relationship, even in these challenging times.