Benefits and Risks of Telehealth (Online Services)
Telehealth is the remote use of telecommunications technologies (e.g., video conferencing or phone) to provide services between clinicians and their clients. One of the benefits of telehealth is that the client and clinician can engage in services without being in the same physical location. This can be helpful in ensuring continuity of care if the client or clinician moves to a different location, takes an extended vacation, or is otherwise unable to continue to meet in person. It is also more convenient and takes less time.
Telehealth, however, requires technical competence on both our parts to be helpful. Although there are benefits of telehealth, there are some differences between in-person psychotherapy and telehealth, as well as some risks. For example:
Risks to Confidentiality
Because telehealth sessions take place outside of the therapist’s private office, there is potential for other people to overhear sessions if you are not in a private place during the session. On my end I will take reasonable steps to ensure your privacy. But it is important for you to make sure you find a private place for our session where you will not be interrupted. It is also important for you to protect the privacy of our session on your cell phone or other device.
You should participate in therapy only while in a room or area where other people are not present and cannot overhear the conversation.
Issues Related to Technology
There are many ways that technology issues might impact telehealth. For example, technology may stop working during a session, other people might be able to get access to our private conversation, or stored data could be accessed by unauthorized people or companies.
Crisis Management and Intervention
Usually, I will not engage in telehealth with clients who are currently in a crisis situation requiring high levels of support and intervention (e.g., someone who is actively suicidal)—those clients will be treated in-person instead.
The telehealth platform we use at Insight Psychology Center, Inc. is secure and HIPAA-compliant. No session content is recorded or stored by the telehealth platform provider or clinician.
Before engaging in telehealth, we will develop an emergency response plan to address potential crisis situations that may arise during the course of our telehealth work.
There is abundant scientific evidence that telehealth services are effective and helpful to clients. For instance, in 2008, a team of researchers statistically compared 98 studies of internet-based therapy versus face-to-face therapy. Similarly, in 2009, another set of researchers statistically analyzed 148 studies that examined the use of videoconferencing to deliver psychotherapy.
The results of these studies suggested that there were basically no significant differences between the two types of therapy, and, overall, patients who received video-based services reported positive outcomes and high satisfaction with the services.
However, some therapists believe that something is lost by not being in the same room. For example, there is debate about a therapist’s ability to fully understand non-verbal information when working remotely. I have been using telehealth with clients for years and approach this issue on a case-by-case basis. Except in rare cases, I have found I am able to provide the same high-quality care to my telehealth clients as I do for clients I see in person.
You are welcome to download this Tip Sheet by clicking on the PDF icon below. This sheet explains how easy it is to start your first telehealth session:
Here is a summary of what you’ll need:
A device (computer, tablet, or smartphone)
An internet connection
An internet browser: Safari (for mac computers and iOS devices) or Google Chrome (for any computer and Android devices)
There are no apps to download.
To join a session from your computer, tablet, or phone,
just click, enter your name, and join. That’s it.
If you would like to schedule a telehealth session, or just have some questions, please click here to send us a message. Or simply give us a call: 949-630-0630. Dr. Carey will be happy to speak with you.