Non Profit Spotlight: Council For Relationships

Council for Relationships is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing high-quality behavioral health care and also training therapists to provide the same quality of care. We are more than 70 psychotherapists and psychiatrists and 50 clinical interns from our education programs.

Council for Relationships was founded in 1932 by a woman named Dr. Emily Mudd who thought that marriage ought to be a more equal partnership between “man and wife.” Dr. Mudd was a pioneer in the field of couple and family therapy, becoming the first full-time female professor at University of Pennsylvania Medical School where she introduced the country’s first course on family, marriage, and sex counseling.

We have not lost sight of Dr. Mudd’s legacy:  we continue to train clinicians through our Master’s in Family Therapy, Post Graduate Certificate, Continuing Education, and Veteran-Focused programs. In addition to our fee for service counseling practice and relationship education programs, we offer low-fee in-person therapy services to clients who qualify based on household income. We also have specialized programs for veterans and their families and women experiencing hormonal and reproductive difficulties throughout the lifespan. We offer individual and group therapy services onsite at partner locations including schools in low-income areas, transitional housing centers, and organizations serving immigrants and refugees.

What is your background? Specialty? How long have you been practicing? Where is your primary location?

Council for Relationships therapists represent more than 40 specialties, including: families in life transitions, divorce, co-parenting, sex therapy, relationship education, anxiety, anger management, self-discovery, trauma, Veterans, and more. Our staff therapists are couple and family therapists, social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists, and many have been with our practice for decades. Our main location is in West Philadelphia and we have nine additional locations in Center City, the Philadelphia suburbs, and New Jersey.

How long have you been practicing telemedicine?

Council for Relationships began offering Online Therapy in 2018.

What motivated you to start practicing telemedicine?

We recognized that there is a growing need for high quality behavioral health care and often a lack of accessible services. In small, rural communities, stigma and privacy concerns may be greater than they are here in Philadelphia, and specially-trained clinicians may not be available. We are excited to offer our services online across the state of Pennsylvania.

Have you had experience with any other telemedicine companies? What made you go with

When setting up our Online Therapy program, it was important that we maintain the highest quality of care that we provide to our traditional in-person therapy clients. We chose for its straightforward interface, strict security, and excellent customer service.

How has telemedicine changed your practice?

Staff Therapist Briana Bogue shares: “Telemedicine has helped me to reach people I could not have worked with if I didn’t have it. I can see people who cannot get to my office, or cannot meet during the hours that I have scheduled office access. Also, I have been able to meet with couples and families where the people are in different locations, but we can all see and hear each other the same as if we were together in the room.”

Staff Therapist Briana Bogue

How do your patients like meeting with you by telemedicine?

Staff Therapist Briana Bogue says that her clients love the interface: “They have found it to be easy to use, and they like that there is a waiting room where they can “wait” until I am ready to start the call with them. My clients have not had many issues at all with the technology, which is something that we thought we’d have to deal with. Best of all, my clients have expressed that they feel more comfortable meeting with me from their home than in my office, so it adds a layer of comfort for them.”

Do you have any insightful, interesting, funny, or notable experiences using telemedicine?

Staff Therapist Gina Rothermel notes that, “It’s fun seeing people in the comfort of their home with their pets.”

Staff Therapist Gina Rothermel

What challenges have you experienced practicing telemedicine? How did you overcome them?

Staff Therapist Briana Bogue shares that, “I was warned that I would have a hard time seeing people’s body language if they were not with me in my office, and I thought that would be more of a challenge than it has been. As a therapist, I have found that telemedicine does not prevent me from connecting emotionally with my clients or reading their facial and body language.”

What advice would you give to other healthcare providers interested in starting telemedicine?

“Use a platform that is HIPAA compliant, and take necessary steps before working together to ensure you can assist the client with their local resources if they are in a crisis.” –Staff Therapist Gina Rothermel

“Do it! There is really no reason not to try it out. I have found it to be beneficial to clients and helped me reach more people than I could have otherwise.” – Staff Therapist Briana Bogue.

You can connect with Council For Relationships on Twitter and Facebook.

Courtney Larson

Read more posts by this author.