6 Benefits and Challenges of Online Therapy
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By now, we’re sure you know there are tons of different ways to expand and grow your practice — But have you thought about the benefits of online therapy?
With the click of a mouse, you and your patients would be able to connect from anywhere. And who wouldn’t love to conduct therapy sessions while lounging on the beach? Although, we don’t recommend conducting therapy sessions from the comfort of your poolside chaise, but a girl can dream, right?
Think of online therapy, or telehealth, as clinical evaluation and treatment at a distance.
We’re going through the benefits and challenges of online therapy to help you decide if telehealth is the right route for your private practice, PLUS a few tips on conducting online sessions.
Online therapy isn’t for everyone – Some clients may like coming into your office and having a trusted source to speak to face-to-face, while some clients may only want to conduct sessions via video. Test out which clients may be interested in your telehealth services by first offering it to a small subset of clients.
Rolling out your video services gradually will help you to grasp what an online session feels like, how to prepare, who’s interested, and test out the ideal length of the sessions. This way, you won’t get overwhelmed with when all of the sudden you’re solely having online therapy sessions and will have your standard procedures in place if you choose to broaden your online services to all clients in your practice.
Telehealth catch your attention? Here are two things to think about before offering online therapy services:
Before even accepting online therapy appointments, you’ll need to make sure the video conferencing system you’re using is HIPAA compliant. A number of companies offer secured services and products for online therapy (Psst… Skype isn’t HIPAA compliant, which makes it illegal to use).
One HIPAA compliant video service we recommend is our partner, thera-LINK. We recently did a webinar about expanding your private practice using telehealth with Carol Park from thera-LINK – Check that out here.
(Psst… They’re currently giving away a YEAR free of their service! Say what?! Learn more.)
Know Your Boundaries
Your state boundaries, that is. While you should definitely check with your state-specific regulations, a good rule is to remember that you are only licensed to practice counseling in the state(s) in which you hold a license. Some states allow crossing state lines for online therapy, while most don’t.
Benefits and Challenges of Online Therapy
As with most things in life, there are benefits and challenges to utilizing online therapy. And also as with most things in life, weighing the pros and cons to make a decision can become a tedious task.
So we’ve done the research, gotten out our scales, and weighed the benefits and challenges of telehealth for you.
Benefits of Online Therapy
Accessibility & Convenience
Online counseling is available to almost anyone who has access to a computer, at the tip of their fingers, which is great. And online therapy creates an accessible way for clients to have therapy sessions from the comfort of their home.
Those who can’t physically come to your office, for any reason, now have an avenue of therapy designed with them in mind. Web counseling has also been shown effective in getting teens and children to receive therapy, as they tend to be more comfortable with using the internet.
Lowered No-Shows & Cancellations
There are fewer legitimate excuses for canceling an online therapy session, simply because a client can attend from wherever they are. It also reduces the amount of clients who may not have shown up to an in-office appointment because they aren’t feeling well.
Hour & Location Flexibility
Chances are, you started your private practice to gain flexibility in your life. With telehealth and online therapy, you’re able to accept appointments during certain hours, whether you’re holding sessions on-location at your office during the week, or from your home on a Saturday afternoon.
Challenges of Online Therapy
Lowered Session Fees
Online therapy sessions generally cost less than in-office sessions. You can absolutely play around with charging different fees until you find what works, but keep in mind that while private practices profit off of online therapy, a majority of income still comes from their traditional, in-office services.
Responding to Crises
While online therapy can be extremely beneficial for both your practice and your clients, the one big drawback we see is responding to crisis situations. Since online therapists are at a distance from their clients, it can be difficult to respond fast enough when a crisis or difficult situation occurs. Of course, there are ways of assisting clients via online counseling if and when these issues arise, but you may have to change your approach to the situation when communicating solely online.
It Isn’t For Everyone
As noted before, online therapy isn’t for everyone. Some people are more comfortable and relaxed when engaging in an online session from their bedroom, while others may be more comfortable in-office, with a tangible practitioner sitting across from them.
So You’re Gonna Do Online Sessions
Congrats on taking the leap! We’re confident you’ll do great. But before you start counselin’ away, check out our Marketing a TelePractice Online webinar, and take a peek at some tips we’ve gathered before your first session.
Can’t get enough? Learn more about earning that extra cash money in your private practice with our Fall Into Cash Campaign.
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