Telehealth

Telehealth

Important Announcement: All sessions for individuals and couples are now offered by video or phone. Phone sessions are also available if you are unable to log in to the internet. Hours are flexible including evenings & weekends. Please email me if you would like to request a time that is not listed on the online Calendar.

What You Need for Teletherapy

In most cases you will need a laptop or desktop computer with a video camera, microphone, and speakers. These are built into most modern laptops. You may also use your smart phone or tablet.

Scheduling Telehealth Sessions

You will need to schedule an appointment as usual through the client portal calendar or by calling Marsha at 910-338-4024. All sessions are being provided virtually – either by video or phone. You will receive text messages or email reminders as usual prior to your appointment.

Make sure you have electronically signed the “Informed Consent for Telehealth Services” document found in your account on the client portal. Clients registered before March 15, 2020 are covered by the standard Informed Consent signed when you first registered.

If you have children at home, try to schedule sessions when another responsible person will be available to supervise the children for one hour or when they are resting.

If you are scheduling for a couple’s session and have young children, an additional option is to schedule after your children’s bedtime. Late evening sessions are available by request. Email or text me with at least two day and time options. I’ll do my best to accommodate.

Key word for this time…Flexibility!

Preparing for a Telehealth Session

Make sure you have a private space to be in where you wonʼt be disturbed or heard. This may be in a bedroom, home office, or even, if needed, a large closet, basement, or in your car in your driveway. Please do NOT worry about clutter or messy surroundings as we will only be focusing on you and your emotional needs.

If you live with others you will need to make sure family members donʼt disturb you You might consider putting a white noise machine or a small window fan on outside the door of the room you are in to mask the sound so you wonʼt be heard outside the door. There are white noise apps available for your phone and also videos of white noise on YouTube.

Log in about 5-10 minutes early so you can check your connection. I have found that placing my laptop on a barstool in front of my chair puts the camera at a good height so I’m looking close to eye level. This feels more like I’m sitting with you in the same room having a conversation.

  • You might try different heights for placement of your device to find what works best for you.
  • Couples, seat yourselves so you can face each other during the session. It is more important to look at each other while speaking than it is to me.

Make yourselves comfortable for a one hour session. Have water, tissues, note pad nearby. Create a healing, soothing environment for yourself in this time to are for yourself.

Individuals

  • Log into your account and click on the session.
  • Select the Connection Test to make sure your camera and microphone are connected.
  • Close that window.
  • Select Start Video Session at the time of your appointment.

Couples

If you are in the same location using the same device, follow the instructions above for Individuals. Although the client portal has a built in videoconferencing feature, it only allows a connection from one location.

If you are in different locations due to work, quarantine, etc. you will access your session through GoToMeeting.com. I will need to know in advance if you need to use GoToMeeting so I can send you an invitation and password for a meeting.

You can log in using your computer or mobile device. Refer to this help document for more information on how to join a meeting.

Preparing in advance by downloading and testing the connection will help the log in go more smoothly. You can test your system compatibility, internet connection and audio settings ahead of time to ensure your session goes smoothly. Visit Get Ready for Your First Meeting page to make sure you are prepared ahead of time. By joining a test session from your computer or mobile device, you can help make sure that your real session will connect correctly.

For the best connections

  • Make sure all unnecessary web-browsers are closed and that no one else in your home is using the Wi-Fi for streaming.
  • Close all open apps.
  • You might try using Chrome or Firefox as your browser. They sometimes work better than Safari or Explorer.
  • Using earphones helps maintain privacy and improves sound quality. I have had good success using both pluggable earbuds and AirPods. Use of the built-in speakers tends to produce echo or other audio issues.
  • If your Wi-Fi is unstable, you can used a wired (Ethernet) connection directly to your router.

Troubleshooting

  • Make sure your volume is up and that your video and microphone are on. This may happen automatically. There is a chat function on the bottom of the screen so we can type a message to each other if we canʼt hear each other. If the signal is bad, exit the meeting and try again. If that doesn’t work, try rebooting your computer.
  • If more than two minutes have gone by and you havenʼt been able to reconnect with Marsha by video, feel free to call Marsha at 910-338-4024.
  • If we have video connection but not audio, we will connect by phone while remaining on video.
Aetna, BCBS of NC, Optum/United Healthcare will cover telehealth during the pandemic. Blue Cross Blue Shield will also cover telemedicine, including teletherapy. During this time, we recommend that you call your insurance to check your coverage regarding teletherapy.
To support clients during this trying time, I have lowered rates for telesessions so that those who really need the support can have access to emotional and relational support. The standard rate for self-pay is $95 for a one hour session. If you have lost your job as a result of COVID-19 and need financial assistance, contact me to discuss an adjustment in payments.
Although research has shown that for many mental health treatments, telehealth produces similar or identical outcomes as in-person treatments, the research is still being gathered, and there are some differences to be aware of. Since telehealth generally only shows faces rather than full body, some nuances of communication via body language can be missed. Likewise, if there is a poor video or sound connection, communication can be difficult or less clear. Much like with texting conversations, itʼs important to check in and make sure what you are communicating and what you are hearing is accurate and understood as intended. Overall, for people who are at least somewhat familiar with using computers or smartphones, telehealth is thought to be safe, effective, convenient, and an important tool in maintaining continuity of care.
Please see our “Informed Consent for Telehealth Services” document. Risks are minimal and similar to face-to-face therapy, though we will need to identify appropriate emergency plans and contacts. In some cases, your therapist may deem that telehealth is not appropriate or safe to use and will discuss alternatives if this is the case.
You must read and sign our “Informed Consent for Telehealth Services” prior to your first session. Your therapist will be happy to address any other questions or concerns you might have, and we are looking forward to being able to continue to support you in this way and help you navigate these unprecedented events with resilience and meaning.