Distance counseling is private, as long as the client and therapist take appropriate precautions. Therapy sessions should only be conducted in a private area, free from distractions and interruptions. Clients are in control of their environment during session so precautions should be taken to ensure privacy and sessions should never occur over a public connection or device. Your Branches therapist will only communicate through a secure portal when conducting a video session, will not store any information on unprotected devices, and will only e-mail using HIPAA compliant e-mail.
However, even when taking every precaution risks remain.
Most computers and smart phones purchased within the last five (5) years meet minimum requirements. The client will need a camera and microphone for video sessions (many are built in) and a reliable internet connection. Phone sessions require a strong, consistent, phone signal.
Technical specifications include: Resolution 640x360 at 30 frames per second with a minimum of 384 Kbps upload/download. Speed tests can be conducted online.
The best internet connection will be from a wired, or LAN, connection. While WiFi connections may be used they are not as reliable as a wired connection. If a WiFi connection must be used a dynamic wireless connection is preferred because it changes bandwidth to identify the best connection (nearly standard).
Your Branches therapist may accept your insurance, feel free to ask. However, not all therapists are signed up to accept all insurance providers.
Also, insurance companies have multiple ways of billing. Insurance companies require disclosure of confidential information, so many therapy clients prefer to pay for sessions themselves. If you have a high deductible to meet, there may be little or no cost difference.
If your insurance allows Out-of-Network billing, let your Branches therapist know and they will help coordinate that with your insurance company. However, your insurance may not cover all services.
Emergencies should always be handled by calling 9-1-1, or by going to your local hospital. However, your Branches therapist would appreciate knowing about any emergencies and may suggest scheduling a brief session to go over what happened.
Not generally. Your therapist will be assigned to you and all scheduled sessions will be between you and your therapist.
However, if an emergency session is needed but your therapist isn't available (vacation, illness, etc.) you may be offered the option of seeing a different (Branches approved) therapist.
Keep in mind you're using distance counseling! If possible or necessary, your therapist can use their smart phone or tablet to meet with you.
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