I no longer keep appointments in person in my office due to the Coronavirus pandemic. So, don’t go there. Instead, I have contracted with a secure, HIPAA compliant telehealth platform connected to Google that gives me video conferencing capabilities that I believe is better than meeting you with masks on. Even after things open up, I intend to continue to offer telehealth in my practice.
Frequently Asked Questions about Telehealth:
What is Telehealth?
If you have ever Skyped, or used Facetime or Zoom, you understand the basics of telehealth. I see you, you see me, and we can hear each other. There are some real shortcomings and technological issues related to connectivity often interfere, but it’s the best we can do right now.
Can we use Telehealth for any kind of counseling?
Telehealth is not a complete replacement for face-to-face therapy, but when circumstances dictate, it’s a viable alternative.
If you are suicidal, it is important that you seek professional help immediately through other channels that have the resources to help you in person if need be. Call 1-800-784-2433 or 911 for immediate assistance.
What do I need for Telehealth?
You will need a smart phone, a tablet, or a webcam on your computer and to be familiar with using it. You will need a quiet place to talk, where you cannot be overheard.
Will insurance pay for it?
Insurance companies in New York State are required by law to cover both video and phone counseling. I can’t comment on other states. During the pandemic, most insurance companies in New York State are also required to wave copays and deductables for telehealth sessions, making them much more affordable than meeting a counselor face-to-face.
How do I pay you?
If you are not covered by insurance, you will have to pay by credit/debit/HSA card on the patient portal. If you are new to me, I ask that you pay a deposit in advance of our first session.
Is Telehealth confidential?
I have provided secure, HIPAA conmpliant video conferencing platforms (Simple Practice, Doxy, and Google Meet) for sessions. If you chose to use other platforms, or choose to use the phone, you are doing so at your own risk of security breach.
I will treat the things you say in telehealth sessions with the same confidentiality as if you spoke in face-to-face sessions. I am still required to report to local authorities if there are safety concerns. However, I do not have the same level of control over your privacy that I have when you are in my office. You will have to ensure that no one is able to overhear us.
What do I do if I get disconnected?
If we get disconnected, please don’t take it personally, it was probably the technology. Just try to return and see if the problem has gone away. Poor bandwidth (upload speed) is generally the cause. You can try moving closer to a window if you are on a mobile service, or closer to the router if you are on WiFi. If that doesn’t work, then call me and we will finish the session by phone.
Can we do Telehealth across state or national lines?
I am licensed to do mental health counseling in the State of New York. That does not necessarily mean I cannot do counseling elsewhere, but some states and countries have expressly forbidden outside counselors to work within their borders.
From a consumer’s point of view, the issue is that of how to settle disputes. If you live in, say, the Australian outback, technology enables you to work with a New York State counselor; but if you had a dispute with your counselor and wanted a governmental body to settle it, it would not be clear what jurisdiction would do so.
For these reasons, if you are a new client from outside New York State, are an established client and plan to move elsewhere, or wish to continue counseling during trips, then I would have to research the applicable laws before we begin.