TELEHEALTH & NEW IN OFFICE SESSION PROTOCOL
By: Linnea Sieh, MA, LPC & Veronica Visger, MA, LPC, NCC
One of the most common questions that our counselors at All Things Possible Wellness Center PLLC (ATPWC) are getting asked right now is “Why should I try a telehealth therapy session?” We know you might be wondering what sessions might look like in the future as well. I’ll be trying to answer those questions for you, but if you have specific questions, you can certainly contact your therapist. If you’re reading this because you aren’t sure if you are ready to start therapy, or are looking to schedule a session, you can contact the office staff at (586) 213-5505. We would be honored to see you for telehealth as soon as possible or in person starting on 05/18/20, whatever is more comfortable for you.
It can be scary to think of starting a new type of therapy session when all you might want is some semblance of normalcy. Truthfully, telehealth sessions aren’t that much different from a regular therapy session. They can be used at other times, as well, such as in bad weather, or if you can’t get to the office that day. Most insurances cover some type of telehealth session. If you aren’t sure if your insurance covers it, you can contact them to ask. You will need to sign a specific consent form to be able to meet with telehealth sessions. Our form is here: https://allthingspossiblewc.
As for what the session might look like, it’s pretty much the same as being in the office. Your therapist will be speaking to you from a safe, private place in their home or sometimes still in their office. They will take precautions to make sure your appointment is kept confidential and will ask you to also find a safe and private place. Sometimes this means sitting in your car, bathroom, or other different spot. Your therapist won’t judge your space, they will just be glad to be able to talk to you.
Some therapists might be wearing earbuds or other devices to make sure you aren’t overheard. They will use a secure video chat service, such as Doxy.me or Google Meet to be able to see and hear you. They might email you any handouts or homework assignments, instead of handing them to you.
If the technology is difficult to understand, our therapists can help walk you through the process. The services we are using at ATPWC generally involve using an app, or clicking on a link to join a secure virtual site that will only be for you. Generally, you can access the session on a phone, tablet, or computer.
Telehealth sessions also work with kids, although they might be shorter. Child and adolescent counselors might use games such as Pictionary, The Ungame, or other games to help kids talk about what might be bothering them. Regular games, such as Uno and Battleship can also be used. Kids also enjoy showing off their room, favorites toys, and pets to the counselor. I can’t speak for all the counselors at ATPWC, but one of my favorite parts of online sessions is getting to meet my kid clients’ pets. My dog also likes to join in sessions, even if it just means she’s snoozing on my lap.
To answer the question of why someone might want to use telehealth sessions, that is quite simple. In these stressful and confusing times, it’s helpful to be able to talk to someone who understands your concerns and has been working with you on coping skills. Taking a break from therapy when situations become more than you can handle can lead to feeling overwhelmed. Your counselor is part of your support system and should be utilized regularly. Despite not being in our offices, we’re still the same clinicians.
As to what sessions might look like in the future, they will admittedly be different. Therapists will still be offering telehealth sessions even after we open for in person sessions, if you are not able or don’t feel comfortable returning to in person sessions. Insurances may change what they cover for this service, but your therapist can offer other options if that becomes a concern.
All three of our offices will be opening for in person sessions on May 18th, including our new main office that relocated to 15 Mile Road in Clinton Township – 16645 15 Mile Rd, Ste B
We are taking the following precautions, following the CDC and state guidelines:
We will be wiping down high touch areas frequently, washing equipment and our hands between sessions. We will also have hand sanitizer available in our office for use during sessions, if needed.
We will be asking our clients and clinicians to stay home if they are feeling ill or have been exposed to anyone who has been ill. Additionally, if you are in a high risk category, you may wish to continue to stay at home to protect yourself and others.
We will be asking clients and clinicians to wear a mask/bandana/face covering when in the office, if medically able. Not all the clinicians are in the office on the same day, or at the same times, so we are already alternating the amount of people in the office at a time.
We will be asking our clients or family members of clients to wait in their cars until the time of their appointments, rather than in our lobby. The beverage stations and waiting room chairs will be blocked off – our lobbies are closed to the public. Your clinician will text you when they are ready for your appointment and will meet you at the lobby doors to bring you or your child back for the appointment. Your child’s clinician will also walk your child back to the main doors after the appointment is completed.
We will have HEPA air purifiers in every treatment room to help purify the air from virus, bacteria, and allergens.
Although you will see our admin team on site they will be available by phone only to minimize exposure for client/team. Your therapist will collect any copays.
Please understand that these are confusing times for everyone and we are doing the best we can to help keep everyone safe. Your All Things Possible Wellness Center team is eager to continue to support you and are looking forward to seeing you either in person, or online. Together, we will get through this!