In this age of connectivity, clients expect therapy to be accessible. I continue to see unmet demand for video therapy. Few therapists offer this service which I started doing a few years ago. My clients benefit from video therapy in many ways. I have clients traveling who want to keep their appointments. I use video to meet with college students who return home for the summer and breaks. I use video to meet with clients during snow days, transportation problems, forgotten appointments (just log-on for a session so the appointment time can still be used) and for those whose illness was contagious, yet they needed their session because they felt so bad, both mentally and physically. I also have business people who want their session, but cannot afford the travel time on account of their busy schedule.
It is difficult for rural residents to get services. Video sessions make this easier. Rural clients, however, often do not have a fast enough internet connection, but this will improve in time. Some rural clients have a high quality cell signal, which allows them to hold a session, but this cuts into their data allotment. I have had success relying on a phone call for the audio and tolerating a lower quality video feed.
In my experience offering the option for video sessions helps me give my clients a higher level of care and means my clients are more likely to keep their appointments. If the client is comfortable with the technology, it works well. If their internet connection goes out, then the phone is a backup. There are many clients not comfortable with video sessions and choose to only come to the office. This is OK too. Over time I believe more people will be comfortable with video sessions.
There are some situations where video sessions are not appropriate. Examples include clients who pose a high risk, such as homicidal and/or suicidal ideation, psychosis, or who simply need a more intense services. I never use video sessions with someone who is court ordered or having problems with denial. I don’t feel video sessions are powerful enough in this situation. However, if someone is looking to better themselves and is higher functioning, video sessions are often ideal.
Remember, it is important for both therapist and client to have a history of using video conferencing services and have quality internet, a high quality router and computer, and good lighting. We need to ensure the technology adds to the therapy experience.
Therapy must embrace technology to remain relevant and to help clients. If licensed therapists do not embrace video therapy, those in need of therapy will seek less qualified people who are using video services. Lets not let our profession be left behind.
Buck Black LCSW, CST is a therapist who has several years of experience using video conferencing with clients to address anger, stress, and relationship issues. Therapy appointments are also available at his office. His information is at www.BuckBlack.com Follow him on twitter @BuckBlack