Telehealth Certification Institute

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Clinical Insights

Returning to the Office

To Be or Not To Be: An Update on Returning to the Office

The COVID-19 pandemic has been in place since March of 2020, almost three years. The majority of clinical social workers, and other mental health clinicians, have been providing mental health services virtually during this time.  The initial switch from seeing patients in-person to seeing them virtually was a difficult one for many clinicians, even one that violated the way that some Codes of Ethics say that psychotherapy should be practiced.  

The question of whether psychotherapy should be conducted through videoconferencing or audio-only platforms has shifted to whether it is safe to return to the office to provide the ever-increasing need for mental health treatment (from 20% to 50% of the country).  About 30-40% of clinicians have decided to maintain their practices virtually and have given up their offices.  For clinicians who have been debating whether they want to return to the office and/or are anxious to do so, there are several factors to consider, as follows:

Health Practitioner using a computer to Establishing Rapport in Telehealth

Technology's Role in Establishing Rapport in Telehealth Encounters

There are many factors that contribute to the success of a telehealth encounter, as there are many factors that contribute to the success of an in-person encounter. Ideally technology should not represent a barrier or challenge to conducting a successful telehealth visit, especially in terms of establishing a feeling of rapport between patient and provider. Technology is just the means to accomplish an end – providing effective and efficient healthcare to patients. The expectation that it is the same as in-person is misplaced as the expectation really is that it should be equivalent. It cannot be denied that the use of technology as a means of communication fundamentally changes the nature of an encounter. This change however should not be regarded as negative – there are actually some people who communicate better virtually than in person and vice versa. The differences between in-person and virtual encounters need to be acknowledged and participants need to be aware of these differences and learn how to adjust their actions and communication styles to accommodate the differences.

VR for Mental Health Sessions

We've invited Terrance Williams, founder of Meta Wellness. His company provides virtual reality platforms for mental health professionals to host their Telehealth sessions in virtual reality. Terrance has been a pivotal pioneer in bringing Telehealth into the next stage of technology: Virtual Reality.

Meta Wellness specializes in creating virtual reality spaces for behavioral health clinicians and their clients in the metaverse. Terrance was inspired by the virtual reality space a couple of years ago. He wanted to make a valuable impact in the telehealth space by creating virtual reality platforms that were fun, challenging, and different. Terrance prides himself on making clients feel less shamed and judged in sessions within the creative digital spaces. He shared that a mental health therapist just recently thanked him for saving clients' lives by developing this innovative and interactive platform.

Student in Virtual Psychological Support Session

Virtual Psychological Support for Students

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, many educational systems have adapted their service delivery model to serve the needs of students. The impact of COVID-19 continues to disrupt traditional forms of education, and many schools and universities have turned to virtual learning to continue providing education to students. While virtual learning can offer flexibility and convenience, it can also bring its own challenges that can negatively impact students' mental health. Providing psychological support to students in a virtual context is essential to ensure their well-being and academic success. 

Female celebrating Emotional Wellness and Empowerment

Empowerment and Emotional Wellness

This essay highlights the advancement and necessity of an Empowerment approach for supporting help-seekers. Empowerment Psychology has its roots in community psychology, multicultural, and social work theories. The early emphasis on empowerment is associated with building up disenfranchised communities and supporting individuals through a sociopolitical lens (Rappaport, 1981). Zimmerman and Warschausky (1998) argued that the empowerment construct has inherent variance according to one's access to resources, but must include intrapersonal, interactional, and behavioral components. Various empowerment models express these components (Bakari, 2022; Cattaneo & Chapman, 2010; Masin-Moyer, Kim, Engstrom & Solomon, 2022). 

Group of Females Exploring The Empowerment Model of Clinical Supervision

Exploring The Empowerment Model of Clinical Supervision, 2nd Edition

What characteristics make a phenomenal supervisor? What about a not-so-great one? It has been an amazing few years of holding space for the community’s stories of mental health and clinical supervision, including the need for something different, something modern, and something more. For many mental health professionals, we’ve had a challenging experience of feeling unsupported or unheard by a clinical supervisor. It’s an experience that feels ever more significant when we recognize that supervisors shape us as new clinicians in the field.

It Started Out Personal

Poor supervision is how my journey started. I left graduate school with an experience of supervision that felt confusing and concerning because of an absence of boundaries. Fortunately, Christina (now my co-author and co-founder) was my next supervisor in agency work and she showed me what it was like to receive compassionate support and empowered leadership, which resulted in me meeting my full potential as a young clinician. Several years into the field, I was promoted into a supervisor role and was determined to do something different for my supervisees.

Neuroscience and Telemental Health

Dr. Jennifer Sweeton, neuroscientist, clinical and forensic psychologist, best-selling author, and expert on trauma, talks with Ray Barrett from Telehealth Certification Institute about neuroscience and telemental health services.  Dr. Sweeton offers her passion and unparalleled insight about how mental health professionals can activate neurological processes with clients using various telemental health platforms. She will both shock and inspire you with her insight about services and the ways that clients can benefit from them.

Theories of Cyber Communication and Its Impact on Treatment

As telehealth becomes a more established practice for both clinicians and their clients, the convenience of it opens many doors to both the busy and the disabled. However, as we shift more attention to telehealth practice and develop that as an option for clients, it's important to understand the ways that cyber communication can affect both the relationship and the individual. While telehealth appointments offer many advantages to clients and clinicians, understanding the limitations of them, and the nuance of how they affect bonding and trust is key to developing trust and the ability to help your clients. People act differently, depending on their setting, and that is especially true when placed against the semi-anonymity of the internet. 


Hyper Personal Effect Theory

Developed by Joseph Walther in 1996, hyper personal effect theory was a theory that came from studying the effects of commuters in mediated conversation, and it a theory that should be kept in mind when dealing with clients via text based exchanges. Walther suggests that visual and verbal cues are key components in developing relationships, and the lack of them in cyber communications can lead to deeper and intimate connections quicker than in other situations. Cyber communications can be a beneficial way of communicating with clients, but the nature of text based communication without the benefit of verbal or visual components is that there is more time to craft an image, tailor it to the perceived wants and desires of the other party, and present that image in the best possible light. Without tonal inflection to read and body language to assess, the only thing to go on is the words on a screen. It is important to keep hyper personal effect theory in mind when communicating with clients, but also when discussing their own relationships--more and more frequently, people are finding friendship and romantic relationships in online spaces, and the immediacy of the relationships found there can become an emotional problem--for clients who spend the majority of their social interactions in online spaces, understanding hyper personal effect theory and what bearing it might have on those developing relationships is an essential piece of their care.