Telepsychology / Remote Therapy
Telepsychology refers to providing psychological services remotely using telecommunications technologies, such as video conferencing or telephone. Some people prefer in-office therapy, while others prefer remote therapy. Available research suggests that telepsychology is comparable in effectiveness to in-person psychotherapy. I have been offering telepsychology as a treatment option since 2019, and have found it to be a valuable tool for many of my clients. Telepsychology introduces potential problems and risks to the provision of therapy (privacy issues, technology malfunctions), but also introduces unique benefits (convenience, no time spent in traffic, ability to keep your appointment when feeling sick). Telepsychology is not necessarily appropriate for everyone (e.g., for clients who are in a crisis situation requiring high levels of support and intervention), but for those wanting to work out their problems in therapy week to week, it can be a great option.
The Technical Stuff
The telepsychology platform I use is called VSee. While VSee features enhanced security tools and meets requirements for HIPAA compliance, total security can never be guaranteed. VSee protects data privacy by securely encrypting all audio and video communication and transmitting it from point-to-point in a manner such that even the technology company itself does not have access to any identifiable health information. In addition, this company provides a business associate agreement in accordance with HIPAA regulations in which the company agrees to be responsible for keeping all patient information secure and agrees to immediately report any breach of personal health information. In other words, this is a much more secure option than more familiar platforms like Skype or FaceTime.
Privacy / Security
I will make pertinent efforts to protect all communications that are a part of telepsychology. You should also take reasonable steps to ensure the security of our communications (e.g., only using secure networks for telepsychology sessions, avoiding public wifi, and having passwords to protect the device you use for telepsychology).
Fees / Insurance
The fees for telepsychology are the same as those for in-person psychotherapy. Since the onset of the COVID-19 public health crisis, many insurance providers have begun coverage of telepsychology services. However, some insurance or other managed care providers may not cover sessions that are conducted via telecommunication. If you wish to use health insurance for your telepsychology care, please contact your insurance company to find out whether these sessions will be covered.
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