Psychology – Some psychologists run their practices completely remote, while others combine e-therapy with face-to-face counseling sessions. In remote psychology practice, trained therapists meet with patients or clients through the internet or telecommunication technology instead of conventional face-to-face sessions. Remote counseling is beneficial to psychologists and their clients. Psychologists who operate entirely remotely can reach more clients and offer better value to them.
Also, remote therapy allows clients to pay less for care, spend less time away from family and work, and avoid the hassles of transporting themselves to psychologists’ offices. People living in rural areas could rely on remote psychotherapy for their mental health counseling needs. And telemental health could be a less stressful alternative to face-to-face counseling for patients experiencing agoraphobia or other forms of anxiety.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, only a few psychologists offered remote services. However, the need for social distancing due to the pandemic and the increased demand for psychotherapy during isolation made more mental health professionals incorporate e-counseling into their practices. Over time, many psychologists began operating completely remotely. Whether you want to start a new virtual practice or transition your existing mental health practice to become fully remote, this guide will help you position your business for success.
1. Pick a Specialty
Selecting a specific client population and specialty can help you stand out as a professional who offers exceptional care. You can expand your practice to treat other clients with mental health problems related to those you handle. For instance, if you normally treat anxiety and trauma, you could expand your practice to accommodate clients with social anxiety problems like agoraphobia. This makes sense because people who are afraid of going out in public may be reluctant to seek in-person therapy.
Of course, before choosing any field to operate in, you must be well-trained and have a significant amount of experience in managing the type of patients you want to treat. Virtual services could complicate treatment in some ways, so you must know how to make your clients feel comfortable enough to open up to you even if you aren’t physically present.
Also, you should know how to ensure that a client who needs follow-up in-person care gets the needed help. For instance, an abuse victim who resides with their abuser may be unable to openly discuss their challenges safely. And people struggling with addiction may need urgent in-person care. According to Sachs, a treatment center marketing group, ”The ability to reach clients at that moment in their lives when they are most likely to be receptive to help is of paramount importance.”
2. Invest in Your Practice
Your telemental health practice is a business, so for it to thrive, you should invest your money into it. Even if you’re working from home, you shouldn’t just conduct therapy sessions in your pajamas on your bed. You should create a home office equipped with the right tools to distinguish your private and work life.
Consider buying a comfortable chair with arms and a lever that can change its height. The lever can be helpful when you want to switch between a desktop and a laptop or change the angle of your computer. Also, get quality telecommunication and video conferencing equipment that will enable you to have uninterrupted therapy sessions with your clients. Like every other business, your psychology practice needs marketing. So, invest in online marketing to ensure that your target clients get to know about the services you offer.
Your office environment should be professional and conducive so your clients can feel as comfortable as they would if they were physically present. You could create an online office backdrop that mirrors how clients would experience their sessions if they were in your office. There is no wrong or right way to decorate. So, depending on your preference, you can opt for a generic decor or a detailed one. You can decorate with colorful paintings to allow your client to have something appealing to stare at while processing complex emotions during therapy.
3. Consider the Regulatory Requirements
Although telemental health allows you to reach clients easily and conduct therapy sessions without physical limitations, your practice license doesn’t permit you to practice anywhere. So, it’s crucial you find out your state laws concerning remote psychology practice. Also, during each therapy session, find out your patient’s location to know if you’re legally permitted to provide services to them. This is especially important if you observe that your client’s environment appears different from what it usually looks like.
Remote psychology therapy increases the risk of HIPAA violation since patients’ personal information will be available online, increasing the chances of access by third parties. That’s why you should use a secure platform to host your sessions and send treatment notes and emails to clients.