COVID-19 (AKA the Coronavirus) is rampant in our country, businesses and schools are closing, and many states have moved to a mandatory “Shelter in Place” order. The economy is taking a major hit, people are being laid off from their jobs, and those who still are working are at risk for COVID-19 infection. Most of us are working from home virtually, schools are cancelled, and day care is really risky to our families so most people are choosing to keep their kids home.
This is a very fearful time. We all manage our stress and fear in different ways, but the best way might be to enlist the help of a licensed mental health therapist. If you already are seeing a therapist, don’t stop now! If you have always thought about seeing a therapist, now is the perfect time.
Evolution Wellness is a mental health counseling center in Wilmington, NC. Our licensed professionals have transitioned to telehealth appointments starting March 16th and we have had several common questions come up. Here are some common questions that we have provided some helpful information and tips for:
Q: Will insurance cover these sessions?
Yes! North Carolina insurance companies have recognized Telehealth as a valid modality of psychotherapy for a while. In light of the effects of Coronavirus and the recommendation for people to “quarantine in their homes” or “shelter in place,” insurance has loosened their restrictions even more. This is a world crisis. Our economy is taking a huge hit, relationships are under a lot of pressure, we are isolated from our social network, and insurance knows that this is the BEST possible time for people to get mental health treatment from a licensed therapist.
Q: I’m worried about the security of doing a session over the internet.
Privacy is one of the most important ingredients for a good counseling session. It takes a high degree of safety to feel like we can really open up about our vulnerabilities and hardships. Through the advancement of technology in the past several years, there are platforms such as Theranest and Doxy.Me where your sessions are secure and guaranteed to be HIPAA compliant.
Q: I don’t have privacy in my home to talk freely and safely. I have to talk about the stress I’m under with my family, but they will overhear me.
It is pretty awkward talking about people when they are in the next room. For some, it can even be a safety issue to discuss things that may be overheard. Our counselors have brainstormed strategies to overcome this barrier:
- Find areas in/around your home that are more private such as your backyard or a closet (no, we won’t judge you!)
- Switch to a telephone session and drive your car to the nearest public parking lot
- Some parking lots (such as McDonalds) may connect to Wifi and therefore you could still do a video session via your phone
Q: I’m not good with technology and don’t want to deal with the hassle of learning how to do video sessions.
That is totally understandable! We live in a digital world, but many of us don’t have to use technology for our careers or we were raised in a time where technology wasn’t predominant yet. Most insurance companies are covering phone sessions for clients who are uncomfortable with video so that everyone is guaranteed to have access to mental health treatment.
If you would prefer to talk with your therapist on the phone, we are more than willing to do that with you!
Q: What will we do during our video/phone session?
Even if you are doing well, this down time can be a great opportunity to work with a licensed therapist to evaluate and address long established behavioral patterns or past traumas. The silver lining of the Coronavirus pandemic is that it is giving us all some down time to consider our future goals and how we can get there. We can still email our clients worksheets AND our therapists are armed with a ton of community resources that can help you through this time.
Q: I’m worried about finances and my copay/deductible is high!
We do not want finances to be a barrier to getting care during this treatment. If finances are a concern, please talk to your therapist to brainstorm ways you can still engage in therapy while not breaking the bank.
Here are some ideas that may help:
- We offer a payment plan where you and your therapist identify a fair monthly payment that gets auto-charged to your card the same day every month so you don’t have to pay the cost all up front.
- We can shorten your session if you have a big deductible to lower the cost.
Q: Is it less effective than counseling in the office?
In this article by Talkspace they say that, “numerous studies — including two 2013 studies published in the Journal of Affective Disorders and Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Networking — found online counselling to be as effective as traditional face-to-face therapy.”
You won’t get to smell the amazing essential oils that we have diffusing in the waiting room, but you’ll save at least 30 minutes of travel time and we can get just as much accomplished in a video session as we can in the office. Our evidence-based modalities and award winning personalities don’t get distorted over the internet *insert wink here*.
Q: Do I Have to Be In North Carolina for counseling services?
Yes! All of our counselors are licensed in the state of NC, meaning we are only covered to treat individuals in NC. However, there are other therapists offering telehealth and you can identify them easily using Psychology Today.
Q: Why do I have to be a North Carolina Resident for telehealth counseling services?
When a therapist is licensed, they are usually only licensed in that state. Some therapists are licensed in multiple states if they choose. If you reside outside of North Carolina and are looking for an online therapist, we recommend using Psychology Today to find a qualified professional counselor who is a good fit for you.
There are other options for telehealth therapy sessions like BetterHelp and TalkSpace; however, these services are less like traditional counseling in that you are paying a monthly fee for so many messages back and forth to the professional counselor and paying extra for video sessions. There are benefits of this service, however there are also limitations.
About the Author: Kayla Reilly MSW, LCSW is a licensed therapist and founder of Evolution Wellness, a counseling center in Wilmington, NC. She specializes in relationships and helps people be better in every relationship role they have. When she’s not busy helping people conquer their mental health and relationship wellbeing, you can find her snuggling her dogs, reading, or playing a mean game of poker.
Evolution Wellness is a counseling center in Wilmington, NC that offers individual counseling and couple’s counseling. Our professional counselors are trained to listen with empathy and expertise and offer guidance to facilitate your personal growth.