About Jeffrey Frank, LCSW I am a psychotherapist in private practice, treating adults who suffer from mood disorders (depression/anxiety), addictions and trauma. I also work with couples in conflict. My primary treatment approach is Intensive Short-Term Dynamic Psychotherapy (IS-TDP). A mouthful! Which hasn’t helped in getting the word out to the public that psychotherapy doesn’t have to be a meandering trip, exploring one’s ancient history.
As opposed to an intellectual exploration, IS-TDP is focused on the present, with attention on how patients respond within the session. It is intentionally highly experiential, and by tracking patients’ responses during our interaction, both verbal and non-verbal, they are able start seeing themselves in a more accurate and honest way. Once self-connected, the source and solution of their presenting difficulties becomes evident.
Being trained to “see with my ears and hear with my eyes”, it is crucial for me to be able to see and hear my patients as closely as possible. While I thought that ability might be compromised when conducting sessions online, I have found that I can really zero in on micro-expressions in a way that’s even closer than in an office setting.
What motivated you to start practicing telemedicine? After ten years practicing in Washington, DC, I closed my office and relocated to Sarasota, FL. Many of my DC patients asked about continuing via teleconference, and so that set me on a mission to find a platform that was reliable and HIPAA compliant. Hence, Doxy.me!
How has telemedicine changed your practice? By retaining my DC license, I am able to continue with my DC patients as well as taking on new patients from DC, when appropriate (I say “appropriate”, because I do not feel that taking on high-risk patients would be appropriate for tele therapy). It’s also been helpful to patients who I see in-office who travel for work. Now licensed and practicing in Florida, I am available to anyone residing in the state, via tele therapy, and not just those in or nearby Sarasota.
How do your patients like meeting with you by telemedicine? For the most part, patients have been responding positively. They are able to choose a setting that works best. Seems an even split between home, office and dorm room. Once, I did a session where the patient was on a park bench.
Do you have any insightful, interesting, funny, or notable experiences using telemedicine? It is not uncommon when working with a patient who’s at home, to “meet” their pet, as it crawls into view.
What challenges have you experienced practicing telemedicine? How did you overcome them?
I always go over a contingency plan for if we loose the connection. It’s usually via phone and I have the patient call me.
Also, I ask my patients to turn off the self-view option of the Doxy platform. After several sessions of noticing patients fuss with their hair or seeming to be looking for a flattering angle, I caught on. I will admit I was guilty of the same, so my self-view gets shut off as well, although I have no hair to be fussed with.
What advice would you give to other healthcare providers interested in starting telemedicine? I say, go for it! I was unsure, as were my patients. Especially for those I had been seeing in person. I presented it as an experiment for both of us. Fortunately, the experiment proved a success for the most part. Though, for a few, once we gave it a try, we mutually decided that it was not optimal and I was able to offer them referrals for in-the-flesh therapists.