Due to the Coronovirus pandemic, we have temporarily closed our offices for the protection of our employees and patients. As a result, we are offering a Telemental health alternative. This method has been around for some time and has shown to be an effective way to communicate and help patients when one on one visits are not possible. I was initially a little hesitant as to how accurate a diagnosis could be when the doctor is seeing or listening to your symptoms through a computer or phone screen.
Recent clinical research, however, shows that Telemental health can be very effective. However, some clients remain hesitant about using Telemental Health tin addressing their mental health needs. As many Mental Health Clinics have closed their offices, and gone to Telemental Health Services, a number of questions have risen from those who are in need of mental health services. The following are some of the frequently asked questions and concerns:
1. I am not Tech-Savvy
2. I do not like to see myself on camera
3. I don’t want to be recorded
4. It’s not secure
5. Others might overhear my conversation with the therapist
6. It’s not personable
7. It will cost extra
Let’s discuss each one of these concerns and how Lighthouse Counseling Services is addressing them.
1. “I am not Tech-Savvy.” We have chosen a platform that is quite simple to use. The platform we are using is called GoToMeeting. Once you have set an appointment, you will be e-mailed either a “web link” or given a phone number to call. Either of these methods will connect you to a private on-line “room” for every session while doing Telemental Health. Here is an example of what the e-mail will look like:
Therapy Session of John Doe:
Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
You can also dial in using your phone.
(For supported devices, tap a one-touch number below to join instantly.)
United States: +1 (872) 240-3212
- One-touch: +18722403212,,123456789#
Access Code: 123-456-789
If you are new to GoToMeeting, download the app on your device.
In summary, there are two options
Option 1: Click on the website and it will take you to the meeting room. There it will ask you for the access code, which in this example was 123-456-789 (as seen above).
Option 2: you can call in, but you will not have video feed. You can dial the phone number listed above (1-872-240-3212) and enter the same access code as mentioned in option 1. You are also able to click the “one-touch” option and it will dial you straight into the meeting. Option 2, will not have a video feed but is a secure way to talk to your therapist on your phone. The downside of this option is, your therapist is not able to see you face to face and will be unable to read any non-verbal body language. In addition, your therapist may want to show you, through your video screen, some information that may improve the quality of your therapy session. The therapist does by a “screen share” with you, and can show you the information on your device. This is not an option if you just making a regular phone call. To your therapist.
Option 3: You can download the app (even on your computer), “GoToMeeting”. You are then able to enter the access code and go into the session once your therapist has begun the session. There are many tools in GoToMeeting that your therapist can use to provide you with a quality experience.
2. “I do not like to see myself on camera.” If you choose to call into your session, there is no video feed. If you choose to enter the meeting through the website, or app, you can turn your camera off. But this will not allow your therapist to see any non-verbal body language as well.
3. “I don’t want to be recorded.” We do not record sessions at Lighthouse Counseling Services, without prior approval. Your session continues to be confidential.
4. “It’s not secure.” We have chosen a platform that is HIPAA compliant and thus secure.
5. “Others might hear my conversation with my therapist.” The therapists at Lighthouse Counseling Services have an understanding that they are to conduct therapy in a part of their home that is private and does not allow for any interruptions. Headphones are typically used also. We encourage our clients to also participate in their sessions, in a private location in their home. It is up to the clients to ensure the desired privacy. Some clients, have even choose to participate in their sessions in their vehicles.
6. “It’s not personable.” Being in a room with someone, does create more of a level of connection and energy that can’t be duplicated when talking through technology services. However, our therapists are dedicated to giving you their full attention and being present during the session, thus giving you the best quality of service possible. We are dedicated to providing you with high quality services whether in the office or through Telemental health service. Our therapists are skilled in building relationships where the connection can be created and thus creating a level of safety and security..
7. “It will cost extra.” At Lighthouse Counseling Services we do not charge extra fees for holding your sessions via Telemental Health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, insurance companies are also not raising your typical co-pay/deductible amounts. In fact, if you are a customer of Aetna insurance, they are covering your Telemental Health services 100%! Meaning you do not have a co-pay or deductible to pay (this is only with Aetna insurance).
Why are we doing Telemental Health services at this time?
Switching from in-office visits to Telemental Health visits was not an easy choice at Lighthouse Counseling Services. We kept the office open as long as we could. When we felt that the risk of our clients and staff could be in jeopardy we chose to close the office for a short time. We are hoping to resume in-office visits soon, for those that want to come in. The safety of our clients, staff and the community are very important to us. We discuss weekly when to open the office again and the safety measures that need to be in place.
We are confident that our therapists are able to provide you with high quality of service through Telemental Health. We discuss any concerns that may arirse with the methods as well as having safety plans in place.
How are we doing Telemental Health services?
As stated above, we are using GoToMeeting which is a secure, HIPAA compliant, user friendly program. Appointments continue to be made by calling into our main line (385-237-4943). Our receptionist, Tatiana, has the phones forwarded to her phone and is answering calls.
With your therapist you continue to decide whether or not you are in need of weekly, bi-weekly or monthly visits. Your therapist is able to schedule your appointments with you as well.
To make payments for your session, we ask for our credit card number and we store that information in our secure system.
If your therapist has any information they need to send you, this can be done through an assigned portal. In this portal you are able to find a consent to participate in Telemental health and are able to sign it through this portal.
At Lighthouse Counseling Services, 3 of our therapists are trained in EMDR. All 3 continue to provide EMDR therapy via Telemental Health Services. Those who are receiving such services, continue to progress on their treatment.
At Lighthouse Counseling Services we provide therapy for children through play therapy. As we continue to provide service through Telemental Health we are still able to do play therapy with our clients. Many times this means asking for extra preparation from the parents to ensure the child has the tools needed for the therapy session (i.e. stuffed animals, art items, etc.)
Aurie, our Billing Specialist, is also available to answer any questions about your bills. She is working closely with your insurance companies to ensure accuracy.
So why should you consider Telemental health services at this time? We are sailing in unchartered waters, so to speak. This pandemic is not something anyone living has ever experienced in their lives! It has caused many different emotions and experiences for everyone. If you feel that you are less in control, feeling anxious or depressed we are here to support you!
Prior to the quarantine many people lived a life of “hussle and bussle” and are now finding themselves with extra spare time or their time being used quite differently, with a life that has slowed down a bit. Many could not find time to have any self-care, where as now, they are not sure what to do with their time! I encourage you, while life is moving a bit slower, to consider taking care of your mental health and seeing a therapist to prepare for when your life gets busy once again!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out!
It is believed that even though the goal of reducing cases of COVID-19 may be achieved through quarantine, there is concerns that it will play toll on many people. The strategy of isolation is causing people to have less support from their family and friends and thus causes feelings of loneliness. This can cause an increase in anxiety and depression. By being pro-active on your mental health needs, you can reduce the risk of high anxiety or depression.
I know I speak for many mental health therapists when I say, we are here for you and want to help you and your loved ones! We have not forgotten you and your needs.
Testimonies by clients who have utilized Telemental Health
“I have be so grateful for my telehealth experience through Lighthouse counseling during this trying time while SIP is occurring. Not only does it give me the one on one interaction with my therapist that I need, it has also been very effective for EMDR therapy. I highly recommend Telehealth during this time. “
“Through the use of Telemental Health I have been able to continue my counseling sessions at Lighthouse Counseling. It's very easy to use, a cinch to set up, and secure. I cannot tell a difference between my sessions via Telemental Health and being in the room with my counselor, and the quality of the session is exactly the same. And bonus, I can wear my jammies for added comfort!”