Why We are Still Focusing on Telehealth
The Covid-19 pandemic has had far reaching challenges. Each and every one of us has felt the strain of this time. As Long Island goes through the phases of Gov. Cuomo’s plan to reopen, it’s natural to look toward “reopening” as a return to life as we used to know it. The hope we all feel at hearing that word brings with it risk as well. Simply put, trying to see patients in the office during the ongoing pandemic causes many complications that would increase the challenges and minimize the benefits of psychotherapy. With all the CDC requirements to maintain viral safety, office visits would be very different from what we’re all used to. We believe the physical and clinical risks of in-person therapy outweigh the possible benefits for most patients. Port Jefferson Psychological & Vocational, P.C. has made the commitment to continue our focus on telehealth therapy for the foreseeable future.
As reported in the Wall Street Journal, “the major culprit [of exposure] is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods.” This describes exactly what happens during in-person therapy. There is a risk of infection between clinician and patient, and between patients that cannot be eliminated. Telehealth provides us the ability to meet your needs while maintaining the mutual physical safety of everyone involved.
Trying to meet in-person during this time also complicates the process of psychotherapy itself. As stated by Dr. Todd Essig in Forbes, “Psychotherapy is built on a promise; you bring your suffering to this private place and I will work with you to keep you safe and help you heal. That promise is changed by necessary viral precautions.” It is a challenging fact that viral safety conflicts with psychological safety. The steps that would be required to see patients in person send a message of potential danger. This would change our office from a place of safety and comfort to one of danger and risk. It would turn your time with us from the freedom of working on your deeper concerns to one of social responsibility and fear.
Telehealth is a viable, functional option that works well for most patients. It is certainly the safest option. It’s important to remember that the alternative to telehealth is not the “normal” we are used to. It would be risking our collective wellbeing, and not reaping the benefits we expect and you deserve. We are very eager for the day when therapy can return to some semblance of “normal.” But “reopening” now, shifting from telehealth now, would look nothing like that “normal” we all wish we could go back to. We understand the complications that come from seeing your therapist via telehealth, and are prepared to help you navigate this new approach to your mental wellness. Until the day when we can see each other in the office as we used to, we are here via telehealth to meet the needs of new and existing patients, and help you through this difficult time.
How We Provide Telehealth
Video Conferencing (often called “telehealth”) is an option for conducting remote sessions over the internet where you will be able to speak to and see your therapist on a screen. We are now set up with a private, HIPAA compliant internet-based video conferencing platform called doxy.me.
Doxy.me can be used with any modern laptop with a camera, microphone, and speakers, as well as any modern smartphone or tablet. We ask that you please sign on to the platform at least five minutes prior to your session time to ensure you and your therapist are able to start promptly. Additionally, you are responsible for initiating the connection with your therapist at the time of your appointment.
All transmissions are encrypted and secure, and no recording devices are being used. The session itself vanishes the moment it happens — there are no video or audio records of the session. We strongly suggest that you only communicate through a computer or device that you know is safe (e.g., has a firewall, anti-virus software installed, is password protected, not accessing the internet through a public wireless network, etc.). As a reminder there are no recordings of these sessions.
To sign in for your appointment, you will go to a link provided by your therapist. The service works best on a computer or laptop physically connected to the internet in your location. It is less reliable on wireless devices. There is nothing to download. The link will take you directly to a virtual “waiting room”. Your therapist will be able to see you there and when they are ready, they will bring you into videoconference.
PLEASE NOTE: There is separate consent form for telehealth. Please download it, read it, fill it out completely, and send it in prior to your first session.
For patients under the age of 18, a parent or guardian must complete the form.
Appointments will take place at the scheduled time and will be the same duration as they would if it were an in-office appointment.
Fees may vary from those for in-office appointments please check with your individual insurance carrier. You will be responsible for any deductible, copay, or coinsurance and are to mail your check to the office immediately.
You should confirm with your insurance company that teletherapy sessions will be reimbursed; if they are not reimbursed, you are responsible for full payment.
Of course, you may contact the office at (631) 928-4635 for scheduling or canceling appointments, or with other questions.
Here is the link for the telehealth consent form: Telehealth Consent Form.
NEW PATIENTS: Please also complete the main Intake Form and send it to the office with a copy of the front and back of your insurance card prior to your appointment.
Please download it, read it, sign it, and return it prior to your first telehealth appointment.