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What “Brick and Mortar” Therapists Can Learn from the Success of Online Therapy

What “Brick and Mortar” Therapists Can Learn from the Success of Online Therapy

We’ve addressed it a few times in our client blog – more and more counseling clients are turning to online therapy to address their mental health needs. Although there is some debate regarding the efficacy of online counseling, especially for more complex and debilitating conditions, clients of online therapy largely report being satisfied with the online service they receive.

Not every therapist has the desire to offer online services, but we can still take lessons from this growing trend. We’ll focus on one aspect of online therapy that doesn’t just benefit your client – it can also save you time and money in the long-term and help keep your rates affordable: Making your service more convenient.

One of the primary ways clients and therapists communicate in the online therapy world is through text-based communication. The text-based option allows clients to communicate more readily with their therapist on an ongoing basis, without having to wait for an in-person session. Different sites offer different options for text-based services – clients can opt for a certain number of messages from their therapist each day, ranging from one response to many more. These text-based communications are not replied to immediately, nor is there a time-requirement on the part of the therapist – just that they respond each day.

What can a “brick and mortar” therapist do to incorporate this convenience? This can be as simple as encouraging regular, secure communication from your client in between sessions to offering a secure written response program through email or text for an additional, self-paid fee. This can be a great option for clients who cannot afford weekly sessions and need to meet at a reduced interval schedule. An important note: Be cautious of the HIPAA requirements in your state with regard to replying to clients or offering therapeutic content through written communication.

The other side of the convenience of online therapy is the ability to connect with a therapist online from the location of the clients choosing. While “brick and mortar” therapy cannot replicate this exactly, you can mirror it through the use of an online scheduling system that allows clients to link directly into your calendar and schedule themselves for an appointment. This is similar to how online therapy is scheduled – these therapists are not “on call” for face-to-face at all times; however, clients do have more freedom in how they schedule appointments. Your clients will have the benefit of immediate gratification in scheduling, and you’ll be saving time and money by automating your scheduling service, thus allowing more flexibility when you look at maintaining affordable rates for your clients.

Both of these strategies give you the ability to use what’s worked for online therapy and apply it to making your practice successful. They don’t just make for a better client experience; the time and resources you save can increase your ability to keep your counseling services affordable.



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Jennifer N.
Posted on 01/22/2018 by Jennifer N.

Jennifer is a writer for OpenCounseling. She has worked at a number of state and non-profit organizations, providing counseling, training, and policy development


 

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