What is Telemental Health?
Telemental health is the new craze and as more and more studies are starting to show it really works, it is likely here to stay. What is it? Well telemental health refers to technology assisted treatment using a variety of different communication tools to deliver services. In English, using your computer, tablet, or phone to get counseling in a way that works for your life and your schedule. We can now use webcams to conduct counseling session anywhere you have an internet connection. We can also provide services via chat, email, and text.
Why is this such a big thing now?
Two reasons -- first, when telemental health first got started, there was not a lot of research to support it. This meant practitioners had to be very careful to warn their clients that it may not work. This is a part of being ethical in our business dealings. This was off putting for practitioners and clients alike. Without the research, insurance companies were not paying for services either.
Second, the technology wasn't that good and wasn't that cheap. In the past, practitioners would have to pay high fees for access to secure technology. High priced headsets and high priced, high speed internet connections were necessary to help the process go smoothly. There are few things more disturbing that pouring your heart out to someone only to find out they didn't hear any of it because of a bad connection. These problems have been solved in most cases. A 4G cellphone connection is generally good enough for a quality experience and with improvements to microphones and webcams, no special equipment is needed.
What services does Out of the Woods offer?
Individual and family therapy via video conferencing. Out of the Woods partners with Doxy.me to provide a therapy experience very similar to being in the office face to face. Clients sign into a online "waiting room" and then are "picked up" at their scheduled time to enter "the office". After a few moments of adjusting volume, cameras, and such the session will begin. Some insurance companies will pay for this service the same as face to face services. This is a great option if you are struggling with an injury, have transportation problems, or don't want to share the flu with your counselor.
Asynchronous chat. Out of the Woods partners with Hale Health to provide asynchronous chat services (similar to Betterhelp and Talk Space). This is a bit different from traditional treatment. Treatment occurs over a series of written messages back and forth. Five days a week, your counselor will check in twice a day to respond to your needs. This is particularly helpful for those who need accountability to stay on track and for those may not feel comfortable talking about their deepest feelings. Clients are encouraged to write as much or as little as they like. There are some severe struggles that are not appropriate for this service. For example, if someone is struggling with thoughts of hurting themselves or others help is needed right away.
Why can't I just use my regular email, Facetime, or Skype?
Confidentiality is a key part of the process. Traditional methods of video chat and email can be hacked into and do not meet federal HIPPA requirements. That's right. Every time you see someone offering counseling through Skype, that person is breaking federal law.