By Heidi Tracey
One positive trend that has come out of the COVID-19 pandemic and worldwide lockdowns is the increased access to telemedicine appointments. At Southern Maryland Mental Health, we are excited to offer tele-therapy appointments so that you can access our skilled mental health professionals who provide counseling services through the SimplePractice virtual video conferencing platform. We offer individual and family telehealth initial intake appointments and ongoing counseling services. This means you can have access to high quality counseling services simply by using your computer, tablet, or smartphone to connect with one of our mental health providers from the comfort of your own home.
New to tele-therapy? Let’s talk about the benefits:
Tele-therapy offers convenience, flexibility, and easy access. In our society, we tend to be over scheduled, running from one appointment to the next, checking off our daily to do list and feeling like there is not enough time in the day to get everything completed.
As mental health professionals, we continue to work to lessen the stigma that some people feel regarding mental health and seeking mental health treatment. Everyone can benefit from counseling but often we hear that it is difficult to find time to prioritize yourself, that you don’t have the time or that some people may feel uncomfortable being in a waiting room.
Tele-therapy makes receiving counseling support more accessible, easy, and transportable by not adding another location where you must drive to and providing a great option to remove barriers for those seeking treatment to feel more comfortable taking the first step to receive help. If you are one of those people who are working long or inconvenient work hours and scheduling in-person appointments can be a challenge, tele-therapy may be right for you. Teletherapy makes mental health services fit into your life without adding extra layers of stress.
At Southern Maryland Mental Health, we use SimplePractice, a fully Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliant virtual video conference platform. SimplePractice also includes secure messaging between you and your mental health provider, and the ability to schedule and pay easily online. You do not have to be well-versed in technology to participate.
What does the research say?
Research has shown that tele-therapy can be as effective as in-person therapy (Kocsis & Yellowlees, 2018). Some studies have shown that the client-therapist alliance can be as strong if not stronger on tele-therapy and that rapport can be built as quickly and effectively as meeting with an in-person therapist (Holmes & Foster, 2012). As long as you are physically located in the state of Maryland, our mental health providers can provide counseling and support to you in this virtual video conferencing format.
I’m ready to try it! Now What?
You’ve already taken the first step by viewing the Southern Maryland Mental Health website and this article. Great job, taking the first step is often the hardest!
You’ve already taken the first step by viewing the Southern Maryland Mental Health website and this article.
Great job, taking the first step is often the hardest!
You can follow this link back to the home page to submit an inquiry, to schedule a phone consultation or initial appointment.
The staff at SOMD Mental Health are excited to be a part of the Southern Maryland Community. If you are ready to take the next step, our therapists are ready to help you.
Getting ready for your tele-therapy appointment:
Here are a few key items to consider to ensure success and the most benefit in your tele-therapy session:
1. Before your appointment, make sure your device is charged and/or able to be plugged in during the session.
2. Check that you have a strong internet connection and access to a microphone and web camera on your device.
3. If you are using a computer, ensure your internet browser is up to date and can accommodate the SimplePractice platform.
4. Simply join the counseling session by clicking the link sent by your provider at your appointment time. If you prefer to be on a mobile device, there is a free, secure, HIPPA-compliant Android and iPhone app that can be downloaded via SimplePractice.
5. Make sure you choose a private, safe, comfortable space, where you can openly discuss any and all concerns with your mental health provider, away from others. Being in a room, by yourself, behind a closed door is preferable but talk with your mental health provider if you need help to identify what may work best in your specific situation.
6. Reduce background noise as much as possible by finding a quiet place with reduced distractions. Consider using headphones to increase your level of privacy.
7. Stay focused and avoid multi-tasking during your session.
8. Give teletherapy at least one session before you decide if it’s for you.
Disclaimer: *Keep in mind that teletherapy is not right for every client or every situation, your Southern Maryland Mental Health therapist may recommend in-person therapy, as appropriate.
Courtney Holmes PhD, NCC, Assistant Professor & Victoria Foster (2012) A Preliminary Comparison Study of Online and Face-to-Face Counseling: Client Perceptions of Three Factors, Journal of Technology in Human Services, 30:1, 14 31, DOI: 10.1080/15228835.2012.662848
Barbara J. Kocsis and Peter Yellowlees. Telepsychotherapy and the Therapeutic Relationship: Principles, Advantages, and Case Examples. Telemedicine and e-Health. May 2018.329-334. https://doi.org/10.1089/tmj.2017.0088
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