From time to time, it is not possible for us to meet in my office. This can be because of situations such as weather conditions, illness/injury, and travel. I do have the ability, made possible by today’s secure technology, to have sessions using a HIPAA-compliant video service. Typically, I only offer video sessions on an “as needed” basis, rather than as the primary way we do our work together. However, due to the current pandemic, I have moved to almost exclusively doing video sessions with my clients. It has been an adjustment for all of us, but I feel very positively about how well it has worked out for most people. So long as the State of Pennsylvania is recommending that people work remotely if possible, I will be continuing with this approach.
To give you a little sense of what it’s like, below is a short video from my computer that I use to conduct my sessions.
Are Video Sessions a Good Idea For You?
To do our best to make sure that video sessions can be beneficial for you, there are several things that we will take into consideration as we, together, discuss the possibility of using them.
My License Limitations
Because of the limitations of my Pennsylvania license (which is standard for everyone at this time, until laws change), I am required to only conduct these sessions when you are physically in Pennsylvania at the time that the video session is occurring. (Not happy about this limitation? I encourage you to write to your US Senator and Representative to let them know that you want them to pass a law regarding license portability for professional counselors.)
Just like the emotionally safe space that I provide in my office, we will want to make sure that you will have access to a private space where you can talk freely, without concern that other people will be listening on the other side of the door.
Strong Therapeutic Relationship
We will also have a conversation about whether our therapeutic relationship has enough feelings of trust and security so that, if we have any technical snaffu’s or I am not accurately picking up on your emotions, because of the limitations of the camera/not being in the same room, your trust in me can withstand these challenges so that we can discuss and work through them. For example:
- Since I am not in total control of the internet or the equipment that we would be using to communicate on the internet, there is the chance that we will lose our connection at an inopportune time like in the middle of you being upset or sharing something that you’ve been working up the courage to say for weeks.
- When we are in the same room together, maybe I can tell that you are starting to get too uncomfortable because I can see your foot start to wiggle more than usual, and adjust my approach, or pause to help you in that moment. But, during a video session, the camera doesn’t let me see all of your body language, so I may miss an important cue and maybe then challenge you more than you are ready for in that moment.
In the first example, we would need to make sure that you have the coping strategies in place to deal with the emotion on your own and wait until we can get together to pick up where we left off. In the second example, if you are feeling overwhelmed or like I am way off base, you would need to have the confidence to speak up and say, “I think you’re missing something here, what you said doesn’t make sense/feels completely overwhelming.”
Reliable Internet Connection
You will need an internet connection that is fast enough to provide a smooth video image and sound quality. Frequent breaks in video or sound can significantly interfere with us feeling like we are emotionally understanding one another and, potentially, even leave room for misunderstanding and fracturing of the therapeutic relationship.
The speed of your internet connection can be tested below. Before you run the test, close all unnecessary apps or programs as well as additional tabs in your browser. The more things your device has connected to the internet, the less internet resources remain for the test…or our video session. Reports show that you have a minimum speed of 6 Mb/s (megabytes per second) to run a video session smoothly for both download AND upload speeds. When you are ready, click the “Start Test” button below and wait for the test to complete. You will know that the test is finished because the gauge images will disappear and you will then see a summary screen with both speeds listed.
Your First Video Session
Get a Spruce Account
If we have decided that a video session is right for you, you will need an account on my communication platform, Spruce. This allows us to do online sessions, as well as exchange text, email, and attachments securely. If you do not yet have an account, make sure that you are looking at this webpage on your phone and then click on this link. It will guide you through downloading the app and creating your account. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to let me know. Participation in this system is completely optional, of course, but necessary if you want to do the video sessions.
Create a Private Space
Prior to our session, I encourage you to do some thinking about how you can create a private space to be in while we have our session. I suggest a room where you can close the door. Additionally, it’s a good idea to locate a fan or a radio with static that you can place outside of the door as a noise/privacy barrier. And, I recommend closing open windows and covering heating vents that the sound of your voice can carry through. Finally, tell people in the rest of the house that you should not be interrupted until you are done. Consider putting a sign on the door to help people to remember.
Payment will be collected on the day of the session using PayPal. I will send you a link to use that will allow you to either log onto your PayPal account or to simply pay with any credit card.