How the combination of in person and video therapy is helping my clients

Last year, when opening my new private practice, I made the decision to offer a combination of outpatient services for adults in the Baltimore, Towson, Columbia and throughout Maryland areas.  Meaning: my clients would have the option of seeing me in person, by video or some combination of both

I knew that video therapy was equal to in person care according to the research and being able to offer this option gave me more ability to serve more clients in a high quality way.  I don't rush in my sessions, video services allows me to reduce my overhead so I can slow down and take better care of myself so I can serve my clients better.  When is the last time a therapist was that truthful about the industry with you?  I'll bet never.

This is not my first rodeo as a video therapist.  I've been providing such services for a couple of years now and, I've been providing video and telephonic counseling and coaching services for decades.  Most recently, I subcontracted with a national company whose primary service is video (and now app-based) therapy.  I received lots of training to prepare myself and make it safe and effective for my clients.  Lastly - sidebar - currently, I am working with a group of clinicians right now who were approached by NASW Press to write a primer on providing teletherapy, which will be out sometime next year!  Stay tuned...

Well, after a year of providing video services in my own solo practice, I thought I'd share some initial observations/insights...

  • Most of my clients still prefer in person services.  Some are couples and that's a bit more difficult by video (at least in the client's perception). My Tuesdays are always booked and, as a result, I've added Saturdays, which are also starting to fill.

  • Some of my clients move back and forth between in person and video.  This tends not to happen however.  Most fall into a pattern of one or the other.

  • Some of my - mostly under 40 - clients have only seen me for video services.  A few of these clients have been seeing me this way over a year now.

  • Some clients have chosen to see me for the initial visit in person and then they move to video services.

  • Some clients have started with video but then decided they liked in person more.

  • One senior client started in person stating "I would never do that video thing" and, viola, discovered after one video session that she loved it and, never saw me in person again!

  • Video therapy does come in handy when driving conditions are treacherous.  Our winter thus far has been mild, so I have only relied on this option one Tuesday so far.  And it went okay.  Some cancelled anyway. Some rescheduled because they didn't want to do a video session.  ;-)  For example, at least one client didn't think they had adequate enough home equipment (high speed wifi, computer, etc.) This was true even though I told them they could try it on their smart phone.

  • Ironically, a couple of my video sessions were cancelled last minute because my clients couldn't make it home in time due to traffic!  One client did stop, park and do the session in their car.  I WOULD NEVER DO A SESSION WITH A CLIENT WHO IS DRIVING OR IS IN A MOVING CAR.

So at this point I would just sum up that not being limited to one or the other is valuable to clients, who come with all different desires regarding the therapy process. Having the choice is key.  For those who choose video over in person, I've noted that many of them are just too busy to do in person services.  In fact, sadly, one or two dropped out because they couldn't seem to find the time for video either.  And this might be more about other issues or obstacles.  For example: was I a good fit for that particular client?  Was this client able or ready to slow down enough to be honest with oneself to ask: am I fully engaging myself in the process, even if I only have an hour every other week?

Either way, I say kudos to video without which many of them might not have gotten any help.

I'll continue to observe in 2020 and give you updates when warranted.

MY INVITATION TO YOU:  If you've been considering therapy, don't wait.  Strike while your motivation is there.  Call me to schedule a brief phone call to discuss if you'd like 410-967-3848.