I’ve been working on expanding the telehealth portion of my business for a number of years and as of 2020, I am 100% online. To date, I have worked with clients in 19 countries on 4 continents including both US ex-pats and natural citizens.
U.S.-based clients not residing in Texas, Florida, New Mexico or Colorado will need to work with me in more of a coaching or consultant capacity until licensure laws among the states catch up with technology. As a coach or consultant, I am a little more collaborative and directive than in a traditional counseling role. Our work will be less directed by a diagnosis of a mental health issue and more about what you want to see different in your life. The difference is subtle but it keeps things within the current rules.
Outside of the U.S., regulations are much more flexible. I’ll need to know which country you are in to verify the rules but it is often the case that working with a U.S.-based counselor will be permitted. To date, I have worked with clients in the U.S., Canada, England, Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Nigeria, Namibia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Moldova, Romania, South Korea, Singapore, Vietnam, Mexico, India, Trinidad and Guatemala.
How Does Distance Counseling Work?
Simple, just contact me here and I’ll be happy to answer any questions and schedule a time to talk. I utilize Google Meet which in the U.S. is considered HIPAA compliant for both voice and video. Internet speed is a big factor in this decision in choosing between voice and video. Frozen screens due to poor internet connection are not ideal.
Personally, I prefer voice-only calls but am completely flexible if you have a preference for video. I like not being distracted by the camera and screen as well as being able to stand up and walk around my office while talking. There is something about being able to move around physically that helps me focus on the conversation. Plus, I can more easily take notes which helps me circle back around to important insights and more easily identify patterns.
Ideally, make sure you have a private space and that you will not be interrupted while in the video session. Turn off your television and music. Make sure pets and children are safe in another room. Consider other things that might distract you and clear these from the space you’ll be using for your appointment. Honestly – I can see your eyes looking at that second monitor checking your messages, just don’t. I promise I won’t either.
I typically set appointments for 1 hour although I have some clients who prefer more or less. Depending on the situation 30 minutes can be useful but a little hurried. 2 hours is the maximum without a break. We’ll decide how long the appointment will be when scheduling.
Once we schedule an initial appointment I will send a link to my online intake form. You complete that prior to our scheduled time and that’s it.
Payment is made through an online invoice I will send to your email address. I’ve only had problems with this system in Nigeria in which case Venmo or PayPal is an option.
Is Distance Counseling Effective?
The short answer is yes. Phone counseling has been around since the 1950s when the first crisis call centers were developed. It has been studied for decades with similar demonstrated outcomes as face-to-face counseling. Many government-funded agencies and the U.S. military provide mental health services through technology as a way of keeping costs down while reaching the maximum number of people possible. In 2020 everything changed as virtually every therapy appointment in the world went online due to Covid-19. Here are a few articles from 2020 that address the systemic changes brought on by the Coronavirus.
VICE July 6, 2020
New York Times July 9, 2020
NPR April 9, 2020
What Are the Advantages of Online Counseling?
Accessibility: The world is big, and in many areas, it can be challenging to find a counselor or coach to work with. In Texas, where I live, 200 of the state’s 254 counties have been designated as Mental Health Shortage Areas. There just aren’t enough counselors spread throughout the state to meet the needs of residents. Working remotely can bridge that gap by connecting clients with counselors through technology.
Specialization: Even if you have access to local resources, they may not have the specialization you are looking for. Being able to find the right fit is one of the biggest predictors of success and having more options increases that likelihood.
Convenience: I work with a lot of clients who are really busy and sometimes leaving the office is hard. Telehealth makes scheduling more manageable which can lead to more consistency and faster results.
Privacy: Small towns are great for a lot of things but sometimes talking about hard things with someone completely outside of your community can feel safer. Distance counseling offers not only confidentiality but a level of privacy that is hard to beat.
Options: Underserved areas offer fewer choices when it comes to counselor expertise and experience. Phone counseling can help you find the best fit possible for your unique situation and need.