The season of sick is upon us — and in a really big way this year! The COVID-19 virus, or “novel coronavirus” to its friends, is here. And it’s making a lot of us stay indoors.
Staying away from our routines, even when sick, is tough for Americans. We’re used to powering through everything. But this is one of those times when we need to give ourselves that vital break which brings healing and health for everyone.
We think that therapists can help. And we think that therapists equipped with the power of telemental health can help even more.
Many private practices are already notifying clients about the upcoming season of the sick and asking them to stay home if they’re contagious.
If you’re properly set up to perform telemental health sessions, we recommend taking it one step further. When asking clients to stay home while sick, also start the process of educating them on telemental health services.
I was particularly inspired by one suggestion from Sally Riggs of New York City CBTp. She told us during a group practice leaders’ meeting that in her notice about preparing for the season, she prompted clients to sign her telehealth informed consent form.
If you’re not quite set up to get clients signing a new informed consent immediately, you can do a simpler version. Something like the following might work well:
The season of getting sick is just about here, and this year we all have good reason to be especially conscious of not spreading germs. So if you have any cold or flu symptoms, we ask you to stay home and get yourself well rather than come in to the office — and for several days after your symptoms subside.
We don’t want you to miss your sessions, however. That’s why we have set up a program of online therapy for all clients who wish to use it. You will need a private space at home, along with a good Internet connection and a computer or tablet. You will also need to do some additional paperwork before we can begin. Please ask us for more details.
If you have a page on your site about your telehealth services (highly recommended!), you can include a link or reference to that page. And if you want a good page to send clients to help them prepare for online therapy sessions, feel free to use ours.
Why Start Prepping Clients Early?
Most clients aren’t thinking about telemental health. They just want to see their therapist. Suggesting a major change of medium and venue rarely goes over well unless the client’s motivation to do it is already high.
If you start norming the idea of video sessions well ahead of time, clients are much more likely to agree to them when the time of need arises.
I think it helps to remember that this effort isn’t about getting 100% of your clients on board with telemental health work. You’ll probably be most successful if your goal is simply to maximize how many clients are willing to to video sessions when they can’t come to the office.
Not every client will be up for using telemental health to stay connected. But many of them will be if you prepare for it.
Announcing: A Deep Discount to Help With Quarantined Clients and Therapists
(For Both Solo and Group Practices)
We have heard the call: in this time of the coronavirus, numerous therapists want to get prepared for telemental health. To help out, we’re bringing back the biggest sale we’ve ever done (if you’re a long-time follower, you’ll know that we promised never to do a sale like this again. But hey — things happen. You gotta roll with what life throws at you.)