Have you been seeing ads for telehealth therapy, telemedicine therapy, or online therapy and you wonder what it entails?
As a psychotherapist licensed in both New Jersey and new york, I have found that I can not only help the residents of Hudson County in New Jersey, but I can help so many more people.
I am able to have ongoing therapy sessions with residents in both New Jersey and New York since I am licensed in those states. I recently noticed that Before my clients start online therapy, they have a lot of similar questions. That's why I decided to write about the in's and out's of how telehealth therapy works.
FAQ's about Telehealth Therapy:
What exactly is telehealth therapy?
Telehealth therapy can consist of video sessions, phone sessions, and/or email and texting. Telehealth therapy works the same as in-person therapy would. The only difference is the location. You can feel comfortable sitting at home in your pajama pants while petting your cat and talking to your therapist. Or you may find that you are traveling for work and want to continue your therapy sessions while you are out of town. You may even find that you are extremely busy at work and can only seem to find time to talk during your lunch break. A video or phone session will save you the commuting time of leaving your office. You may be a student who is cooped up in the library studying for exams. You can take a break from studying by having a therapy session to help you feel more relaxed. You can then feel refocused to continue your work with a refreshed mind. You may have a hard time finding childcare or you are stuck at home with your child who is sick. Telehealth therapy means you can be there for your child and continue to take care of yourself at the same time. There are numerous benefits to having flexibility with your therapy sessions.
How should I decide between in-person and telehealth therapy?
At Anchor Therapy, we provide both services. We find that most clients like to come in for therapy sessions in-person and then they utilize telehealth sessions as needed. A great example is a snow day in which a client may not be able to make it into the office. We can have a phone or video session to continue the therapy without traveling in a snow storm. I also see a lot of clients completely online. This usually consists of mostly video sessions with some phone sessions. Another example is if you want therapy twice a week, we may decide to have one of those sessions in-person while the second session will be a video chat or phone session.
I saw some ads for online therapy that consists of only emailing/texting counseling- is this worth it?
These packages through certain online therapy companies are usually the cheapest option. This package will usually include unlimited texting and/or emailing with a therapist. However, there is an asterisk in which the therapist usually has 24 hours to respond to you. So you are really only getting one interaction daily, if you initiate the first contact. Another thing to note is that some of these companies pay their clinicians by word count. This means that the more words a therapist types back to you, the more they are paid. This seems great since you will get a long message back from your therapist. But the downside is they may be adding a lot of "filler" to make it to a certain word count. This may not ultimately be helpful for you and my worry would be that they are sending similar paragraphs to other clients. Therapy is a VERY personal relationship between two people- therapist and client. So it is important to know that your therapist is helping you in the best way possible for you. There are also some ethical concerns when only doing therapy through text. You do not get the same level of empathy and emotion you would get through a video or phone call. If you do decide to get one of these texting/emailing packages, you also want to be careful that no one else has access to your phone, computer, email, etc. Since all of your words are in print it would be easy for someone to technically access all of your sessions with your therapist. Phone and video sessions are a little more protected in which they do not exist past the live interaction. It is still important to make sure you are in a space you feel safe no one will overhear you and no one else is listening on your phone line or behind the door in your home.
Does a therapist need to be certified in telehealth therapy?
No they do not. Since telehealth therapy is still up and coming, there are not too many regulations around it. It is always good for a therapist to be up-to-date with new therapy modalities and laws that come about. You can ask your therapist if they have taken any courses around telehealth therapy. I personally make sure to take a training on telehealth therapy as new information comes out. Most people with titles of "coach" or "consultant" will do online sessions. There is nothing wrong with meeting a coach or consultant if it is a great fit for you. But if you are looking for a licensed mental health professional, make sure they have the credentials as a psychotherapist before starting sessions.
Is telehealth covered by my insurance?
Insurances are starting to recognize the benefit for telehealth therapy more and more. You may see it labeled as telemedicine. It seems that most plans do cover telehealth therapy now. You want to call your specific insurance plan and ask if they will cover behavioral health telehealth sessions. Stay mindful that a downside about seeing an in-network provider is that the insurance company can limit the number of sessions you can have per calander year. If you go out-of-network, you usually can still get reimbursed from your insurance plan and it is less limiting.
Courtney Glashow, LCSW
is a licensed psychotherapist practicing in Hoboken, New Jersey. She specializes in teen and young adult counseling. Courtney can help NY or NJ residents through telehealth therapy sessions as well.