Kristin Brandon, LCSW, Psychotherapist and Life Coach has over 15 years experience working in diverse environments including court systems, outpatient mental health settings, higher education, and communities with a variety of clients. She currently works with Life Enrichment Resources, LLC.
I spent about 15 years practicing social work in northern Indiana in a metro area of about 200,00 people. Mental health services were plentiful and accessible. However, once outside the metro area, I was surrounded by corn, corn, and more corn. Yes, there was the occasional cow or horse, but it was mostly corn on huge, beautifully maintained working farms miles from the cities.
When there wasn’t corn, there was snow; and lots of it. It was a challenge for these individuals and families to access care due to proximity, farming demands, and weather. At the time, there was much discussion about telemedicine, but the professional community across all disciplines resisted adopting it, despite the obvious need in areas such as the one I was living.
My husband and I relocated to North Carolina about a year ago, and I returned to clinical work with a practice that routinely offers telemedicine. I looked forward to my first opportunity to work with a client remotely, but I admit that I was a little skeptical. I am a fan of Carl Rogers’ client-centered therapy and mandate of unconditional positive regard, which is the complete support and acceptance of my patients, no matter what that person says or does. However, I wondered “How on earth can I communicate that, if we aren’t in the same room?” I have always prided myself on my ability to read and process nonverbal communication and worried that I would not be as effective. It only took one session to understand what we had missed in Indiana --telemedicine is extremely effective, impactful, and practical. It also has evolved over the years, is secure and easy to use, even for those who are not tech “savvy.”
I have found that telemedicine provides an opportunity to focus exclusively on my client without the usual distractions, such as noise from other areas of the building. It offers the client the opportunity to engage from a space he or she has chosen and is most comfortable. Because there are, potentially, myriad barriers (such as the snow and inaccessibility I mentioned above) to many folks who are seeking services, it is gratifying to know that telemedicine effectively negates many of them.
For example, there is no need for transportation, any anxiety that people might feel about leaving home is eliminated, and clients with physical limitations do not need to worry about accessing a building or treatment room. In addition, working with clients who are in their homes or their own offices reduces the fear they may have of being stigmatized and provides them with increased flexibility. That busy executive may have a free hour, but, unless your client works in the office next door to you, that hour will not accommodate a session plus travel time. And, for those in the office-management side of the equation, clients arrive on time, because they are not stuck in traffic or impacted by the weather.
As to my belief that I would be unable to engage effectively with my clients? Not true at all. When I use Doxy.me with my clients here at Life Enrichment Resources, LLC (LER), I find that I am able to focus and feel very engaged. Things that worried me in the past, no longer do – I am able to listen effectively and even find that working with my client from his or her environment can provide me with important information. For example, I have met significant others, pets, and have learned – through seeing their environment – what is important to them. I even have helped a client figure out the best place to store medications for easy and consistent access, because I have “walked” through their home with them (digitally)!
In addition, I have learned to be more aware of myself. I am a very expressive person; and working with clients on Doxy.me has taught me to be more aware of what I may be broadcasting through my facial expressions. Importantly, my clients find Doxy.me simple to use, it is encrypted and HIPAA compliant. Also, the acuity of the picture and sound are consistently good, and I have been able to utilize the chat feature on the rare occasions that I have needed assistance quickly and have been able to resolve any issues without interfering with a session. (It is important to note that I am not a techy kind of person nor are my clients to a large degree, so clearly, that is not a requirement.) Doxy.me is secure and reasonably priced, providing great value to both LER and to the clients we serve.
It also opens the door to treatment to those who may find it had to get to the clinic. That makes it invaluable for many of my clients, and I am happy we can offer this option to them.
Sign up for a free Doxy.me account and start practicing telemedicine today!