In this age of continuously evolving technology, it's sometimes difficult to discern whether it’s making our lives simpler or more complex. What is clear, however, is that we move about our day in a very different manner than did our parents and grandparents. The very fact that you are on this website seeking the right therapist speaks to how our lives have been impacted both personally and professionally. We’re busier and more plugged in than ever before, and it's increasingly more difficult to connect with others in person–either because of geographic limitations, time constraints, or it's simply out of our comfort zone. For therapy to be effective, it needs to be accessible. For this reason, Port Townsend Family Therapy embraces therapeutic communication in a variety of formats.
Teletherapy is a term that refers to therapy where the client and therapist are not face-to-face during a session. Port Townsend Family Therapy utilizes phone, video conferencing, and text to interact with clients. Each is quite different and comes with their own advantages and disadvantages.
Is it Effective?
This small study out of the University of Zurich shows online therapy to be just as (if not more) effective than face-to-face therapy in treating depression (follow link here). Having worked in diverse environments as an experiential educator for 20 years prior to becoming a therapist, I believe most importantly the medium needs to fit the person in order to be effective. For some, that medium might be over the internet, for others it may be hiking to the top of a mountain pass, and for others it may be in the comfort of a therapist’s office.
Is It Secure?
A client's digital privacy is just as important as in traditional face to face sessions. Some safeguards include device encryption, a secure network, and trusted software. Port Townsend Family Therapy uses Apple products due to the company's emphasis placed on customer privacy and built in encryption. The diversity of available devices makes it important for clients to understanding the security of their own devices and apps they choose to utilize for teletherapy.
Accessible therapy requires striking a balance between managing privacy risks while not making security a barrier to receiving help. Clients must take these privacy limitations into account when texting or emailing personal information. Video sessions are conducted over Vsee, an encrypted video conferencing service that is free to clients. Vsee uses FIPS 140-2 certified 256 bit AES encryption. It works much like Skype or FaceTime, however, it follows HIPAA and HITECH security standards required of healthcare professionals. Clients can read more about Vsee's security and download the free software for their session here.
For secure texting, Port Townsend Family Therapy offers clients free access to the Spruce Health app that is both encrypted and HIPAA compliant. Clients will be offered access to this service at their first session.
Who’s it for?
• Clients whose busy schedules necessitate the convenience of teletherapy or who are traveling for extended periods of time, or who are sick, injured and unable to leave home.
• Clients whose symptoms may create a barrier to successful attendance of face-to-face sessions may consider teletherapy as a means to access treatment otherwise thought unattainable.
• Clients in rural areas having difficulty finding the right match for a therapist in their locale may consider teletherapy as a means to expand available treatment options.
Who’s it NOT for?
• Teletherapy is not intended for high risk situations involving threat of harm to self or others. These clients are best served in person where resources and intervention are more readily accessible. Teletherapy is NOT for crisis situations.
• Teletherapy may become difficult and less effective the greater the number of people involved. While many couples and families may benefit from online sessions, it may not be a fit for some.
• Washington State licensing for MFTs requires that clients reside within the state. Port Townsend Family Therapy cannot accept out of state clients for teletherapy.