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Curious about online psychological therapy?

Many things have changed since the outbreak of COVID-19. We have had to change the way we go about many aspects of our day to day life – from the way we greet each other, to our toilet paper shopping habits.

With a need for increased social distancing, people are looking to online solutions to not only work from home but to also maintain important connections with family and friends, visit their GP’s and access support from their psychologist.

What is online therapy?

Online therapy is not that different to face-to-face therapy and your Psychologist will continue to work with you in much the same way as they would if you were attending a face to face session.

The major difference between online therapy and face-to-face therapy is that you do not attend the appointment at a clinic, but instead access online therapy using an internet-connected device like a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Online therapy typically involves the use of dedicated software or accessing a specific website, that allows for video and audio communication between you and your psychologist. This is similar to connecting with family, friends or business contacts using programs such as FaceTime. 

As online therapy is most often delivered via video, you are able to talk with your psychologist in the same way you would in a face to face session.  Your psychologist may also have resources to share or activities to complete that is easily done via the computer.

Is online therapy as effective as face-to-face?

Would it surprise you to know that telepsychology (including online therapy, telephone counselling, email and chat) has been around for more than 20 years, and used in a variety of settings to support many mental health issues including depression, anxiety and eating disorders?

Telepsychology has been effectively utilised by; the armed forces for many years to support the many men and women who are deployed overseas, rural health workers to support individuals living in rural and remote areas who do not have access to mental health services nearby and by Psychologists and medical professionals to support individuals with chronic health conditions that make it harder for them to travel out of the house to see a specialist.

With the rapid increase in the demand for telehealth services and online therapy, there has been a considerable amount of research conducted into the effectiveness of online therapy when compared to more traditional face to face counselling. Research has consistently found that online therapy can be equally as effective as face to face counselling, particularly when focusing on short-term goals and reducing symptom severity.  In fact, some studies have shown that online therapy can be more effective than face to face therapy, especially when it involves the use of cognitive-behavioral strategies in certain circumstances.

How do I know if online therapy is right for me?

Online therapy is a good option for many people including those who reside in a rural or remote area, for people who have very busy schedules or high work commitments and for individuals who have difficulty leaving home for any particular reason. It is also a great option in our current climate of self-isolation and social distancing.

Although online therapy is suitable for the majority of people, there are some situations where online therapy would not be recommended. For example, individuals with severe psychological or emotional issues such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression with current suicidal ideation may find that online therapy is not suitable due as they often require a higher level of care.  Psychologists offering online services are not always able to respond to crisis situations in the manner needed and this should also be considered when determining if online therapy is suitable for your current circumstances.

Others who may not benefit from accessing online therapy include anyone who is not comfortable with using technology (although our staff is on hand to assist) and anyone who has concerns about being able to find a quiet or private area in their home to allow for the necessary level of privacy and confidentiality.

Online therapy is a good option for many people including those who reside in a rural or remote area, for people who have very busy schedules or high work commitments and for individuals who have difficulty leaving home for any particular reason. It is also a great option in our current climate of self-isolation and social distancing.

Although online therapy is suitable for the majority of people, there are some situations where online therapy would not be recommended. For example, individuals with severe psychological or emotional issues such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression with current suicidal ideation may find that online therapy is not suitable due as they often require a higher level of care. Psychologists offering online services are not always able to respond to crisis situations in the manner needed and this should also be considered when determining if online therapy is suitable for your current circumstances.

Others who may not benefit from accessing online therapy include anyone who is not comfortable with using technology (although our staff is on hand to assist) and anyone who has concerns about being able to find a quiet or private area in their home to allow for the necessary level of privacy and confidentiality.

What fees are payable?  

Sessions fees cover the time spent with your clinician. Therefore we charge our normal fees for online and telephone therapy sessions.

What rebates are available?

Private billing arrangements

Private health insurance rebates may apply to online psychological therapy sessions. Please check with your health fund to ensure you have psychology or clinical psychology cover.

Online therapy sessions may also be funded by your employer under an employee assistance program of another third party (i.e., if you do not normally pay a fee) your normal arrangements should apply. We recommend consulting with your HR department or case manager.

Medicare rebates for rural and remote clients

To be eligible to receive these services under Medicare for a mental health condition, you must:

  • have an eligible mental health condition and a referral from a GP, psychiatrist or pediatrician
  • live in an eligible rural, remote or very remote location
  • be located at least 15 kilometres by road from the mental health professional
  • not be a patient of an emergency department or admitted to the hospital at the time of the service.

Medicare rebates for COVID-19 online therapy services

Rebates are now available for Medicare COVID-19 online therapy (also called telehealth) sessions to all Australian’s with a current mental health care plan.

What equipment do I need to access the online therapy?

You will need access to a quiet, private space; a device, i.e. smartphone, laptop, iPad, computer, with a camera, microphone and speakers; and a reliable broadband internet connection. Where possible, we recommend you hard wire your computer to your modem as this improves the quality of the video session. If you are unable to do this then wifi or 4G will be just fine.

How do I prepare for my first online therapy session?

  • Find a space where you can talk freely, preferably a room with a door that closes with no other people in the room.
  • Position your computer so that your therapist can see you during the session. We recommend positioning your computer so your head and shoulders are visible. This is a more natural view for conversing.
  • Have a set of headphones handy.  Some people feel more comfortable talking over headphones as it improves privacy.
  • Be ready on time for your session. We recommend you are ready for your online session 5-10 minutes ahead of the appointment time.
  • If your therapist has sent you a link to log in to the online session, click on the link and wait for your therapist to join.

More information

If you would like to learn more about online therapy or book an appointment with one of our experienced clinical psychologists, contact our friendly client team by calling 6143 4499 or email via our contact page.

Contact

Ph: (08) 6143 4499
Fax: (08) 9200 5696

Monday to Thursday 9am – 7pm
Friday 9am – 4pm
Saturday 9am – 2:30pm

Locations

34 Coghlan Road,
Subiaco, Perth, 6008, WA

Level 1/20 Bayview Tce Claremont, Perth, 6010, WA

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Lawson Clinical Psychology
All Rights Reserved

Our Subiaco office has moved to West Perth

 

Our Subiaco office has relocated to 6 Outram Street, West Perth. 

Our telephone and email remain the same. 

We look forward to seeing you at our fabulous new space in West Perth.

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