Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, our lives have looked starkly different. All of a sudden, we have had to adapt to connecting with friends, family, and coworkers from a distance. We have become FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype experts, and even though it is not quite the same, we have found creative ways to stay connected.
Here at Airdrie Counselling Centre, we have made changes too. To adhere to physical distancing guidelines that keep our community safe, we have been offering counselling over the phone or through videoconferencing. We know that there may be questions about telepsychology, and we hope that this blog post provides some answers.
Is receiving counselling over the phone or through video effective?
In a nutshell, yes! Research has shown that telepsychology can be as effective as attending counselling in-person for a variety of concerns, including depression, anxiety, stress management, and PTSD. Studies have also found that clients are equally satisfied with telepsychology as in-person counseling, and it is just as possible to establish a strong working relationship with your therapist virtually.
What do you need for telepsychology?
For both phone and video counselling, it is important to have a private space where you can speak freely without interruptions. This could be a room in your house or a vehicle. For additional privacy, consider placing a sign on the door to avoid being interrupted by family members, or try using headphones to decrease sound transfer.
For video counselling, a strong internet connection is ideal to avoid disruptions to the session. To preserve bandwidth, avoid the use of streaming services by family members during the counselling session, and if possible, consider using a computer or laptop that is directly connected to the internet (instead of using a wireless connection). Avoid using unsecured wireless networks, such as those provided free-of-charge that do not require a password.
What program is being used for video therapy? Will my information be secure?
We offer video counselling through our online booking system, Jane. When a session is scheduled, you will receive an e-mail with a unique link to your video session. Once the link is clicked, a new browser window containing your counselling session will open.
Jane offers end-to-end encryption, meaning that information is sent securely between your device and your counsellor’s device. Jane does not store any information from your video session and complies with HIPAA privacy requirements.
Watch a tutorial for joining a video session through Jane:
1. Day, S. X., & Schneider, P. L. (2002). Psychotherapy using distance technology: A comparison of face-to-face, video, and audio treatment. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 49(4), 499-503.
2. Hilty, D. M., Ferrer, D. C., Parish, M. B., et al. (2013). The effectiveness of telemental health: A 2013 review. Telemedicine Journal and E-health : The Official Journal of the American Telemedicine Association, 19(6):444-454. DOI: 10.1089/tmj.2013.0075.
3. Stubbings, D. R., Rees, C. S., Roberts, L. D., & Kane, R. T. (2013). Comparing in-person to videoconference-based cognitive behavioral therapy for mood and anxiety disorders: Randomized controlled trial. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 15(11), e258.
About the Author: Sharon Yeung, M.Ed. is a Registered Psychologist in Alberta who currently works in private practice for the Airdrie Counselling Centre. If you would like to learn more about Sharon and book an appointment with her please visit her profile by clicking on the following link: www.airdriecounsellingcentre.com/sharon-yeung-psychologist