by Rachel Koonse, LMFT
During this time of global uncertainty, fears of the unknown can predominate in our minds. Our lives have shifted drastically, which can leave us grasping for some semblance of normalcy and familiarity.
Foresight has endeavored to make our office environment one of comfort, peace, and inclusivity. The therapy room becomes a sacred space for members and providers: a place of connection, authenticity, and confidentiality. And now, as we navigate working from home in line with the directives of the shelter in place, the therapy rooms that we have come to value are evolving into a new shared space via telehealth.
Amidst a time that is already posing so many unknowns, the shift to telehealth may bring additional uncertainties or unknowns for many. It is incredibly valuable to address these concerns with your provider so that they can be held and processed. In addition to that, we wanted to provide a list of some common misconceptions about online therapy so as to quell some fears and provide a level of certainty in a time that is otherwise characterized by unknowns.
Myth: Sessions will be impersonal and I won’t be able to truly connect with my therapist.
Reality: While meeting your therapist via telehealth may initially feel unconventional, it likely will not impede upon your ability to find connection with them. The importance of therapist fit is a reality both within and outside of an office setting. If it is your first time meeting with your therapist, reflect on questions such as:
Did I feel truly heard and listened to by this provider?
Did I feel like their approach aligned with my needs?
Do they have experience treating the concerns that I am coming in with?
How did I generally feel talking to them?
These are vital questions to consider, irregardless of the therapy environment. Additionally, many of our members are transitioning to telehealth with a longstanding relationship already formed with their provider. We encourage you to trust in the security and depth of the existing relationship with your provider; knowing that with time and acclimation to this new form of therapy you will once again feel connected to them.
Myth: Navigating technology will significantly disrupt our sessions.
Reality: Yep, sometimes technology is our friend...until it isn’t. Sometimes WiFi will be spotty, the platform you are using for telehealth will lag, or you simply lose connection for no apparent reason. While these are truths, Foresight has taken several steps to make sure that our telehealth platforms are user friendly and accessible; and we have also built contingency plans for the times that technology isn’t on our side. Foresight has trained providers on how to use several different telehealth platforms, so if one happens to not work, providers can adapt in the moment and utilize an alternate platform. And if all else fails, a good old fashioned phone call will enable you to connect with your therapist.
Myth: Insurance won’t cover the cost of telehealth.
Reality: Most, if not all, private insurance plans cover telehealth. Additionally, during this time of crisis, Foresight is honoring members’ regular copay in the rare event that their insurance policy does not cover telehealth services.
Myth: Sessions will not be confidential.
Reality: Confidentiality is a legal and ethical mandate for mental health professionals. Though providers are working from home, they are taking every step possible to preserve the confidentiality of sessions. In addition, Foresight is utilizing HIPPA compliant, secure platforms to conduct teletherapy. We encourage you to be mindful of the space that you are in to protect your privacy. However, we recognize that it is not always possible to be in an environment that is free of disruptions, housemates, and other factors that may impact the privacy of your sessions. As such, consider the content that you would like to bring to session, and utilize our portal’s messaging system to prompt your therapist about any discussions that you would like to table, or to check-in in between sessions.
Myth: Telehealth is not as effective as in-person therapy.
Reality: Research actually suggests that telehealth can be just as effective as in person therapy. In outcome studies, client gains have been virtually identical to in office services. Research in this area has covered an array of presenting concerns, including depression, PTSD, OCD, panic disorder, and anxiety; among others. More importantly, research suggested that the bond that clients built with their therapist mattered more than the environment in which sessions were conducted.
We hope that this information about the myths and facts of teletherapy is helpful in mitigating some reservations you may have had about therapy in this form. As always, it is Foresight’s mission to empower our members to live happier and healthier lives. During this unprecedented time in history, we aim to continue to honor our mission by making services as supportive and accessible to our community as possible.