Getting the most out of your telehealth sessions
PerformCare covers telehealth services to help ensure that our members have access to behavioral health services. Telehealth services (the delivery of behavioral health services through remote technology) usually come in two ways:
- Telephonic sessions (help or counseling over the phone).
- Secure web-portal sessions (using a smartphone or computer).
Your sessions may be on your phone, your tablet, or your computer (PC), depending on the equipment you have. Providers offering this type of service will follow state and federal rules and guidelines.
If you feel that it is best for you or your loved one to be seen in person, or if you talk with your provider and it is determined that telehealth is not clinically the best option, the provider will make socially distanced face-to-face sessions available to you.
Getting your counseling through telehealth may be unfamiliar or feel strange to you. There are some things you can do to help this new way of getting counseling feel more like the familiar, in-person care you may be used to.
Try these tips to help you get the most out of your telehealth session.
Avoid distractions during your session:
- Find a comfortable, quiet space in your home.
- Try sitting in a private place where you won’t worry about being overheard or interrupted.
- If you live with others, make them aware that you will be unavailable during your session. You may even want to put a sign on your door to let them know you must not be disturbed.
- If it helps, dress as you would for an in-person meeting with your doctor, therapist, or counselor.
Test your gear before the session begins
- You want to have a strong internet connection.
- If you are teleconferencing, make sure you are in a spot where you get good reception.
- If you will be using a smartphone, find a stationary location to set up your phone so you can be hands-free.
- Consider using headphones to improve sound quality.
- Try to find out the number your provider will be calling from, so you recognize that it’s your provider calling.
- Be prepared to answer your phone at the time of your appointment.
- If video conferencing, log on a few minutes early so you’re ready to start on time.
- Write down your thoughts, needs, ideas, and observations in between appointments. (Don’t assume you’ll remember everything that you want to discuss.)
- Make a list of issues to address, changes in symptoms, questions, priorities, etc.
- Have that list next to you for each telehealth session.
In addition to any notes, think about things you might need during the session to avoid interruptions, like water or a pen and paper.
During your session
If this is your first session, discuss your goals with your therapist.
If you moved from in-person therapy to telehealth, tell your counselor what you liked about your previous visits. That way, you can work together to replicate that experience as much as possible.
During your session, make eye contact if you are video conferencing. You may also need to talk slower than you would in person.
Speak clearly and check in to make sure you can be heard and understood.
Remember to stay focused on your therapy session and avoid doing other tasks like laundry or checking email.
Again, you want to replicate the in-person experience as much as possible.
Other things to expect during your session
The provider will:
- Get your consent to participate in telehealth.
- Work with you to develop a crisis plan, if necessary.
- Tell you what to do if you get disconnected from a session.
If these things are not discussed, bring them up with your provider.
When your session has ended
- Review your notes and assignments.
- Jot down anything you might have forgotten to write down. This will help to ensure that your next telehealth session is just as productive.
Be patient. It may take a few sessions for you to feel comfortable. With the right preparation and commitment, online therapy can be a great alternative to in-person therapy. You may even find that it is a better way to receive the service.
Learn more about telehealth and how you can use it. Call the PerformCare phone number for your county listed below with any questions you have or to ask for help.
Cumberland, Dauphin, Lancaster, Lebanon, and Perry counties
- Member Services: 1-888-722-8646
- TTY: 1-800-654-5984 or PA Relay 711
Franklin and Fulton counties
- Member Services: 1-866-773-7917
- TTY: 1-800-654-5984 or PA Relay 711
We encourage you to keep in touch with your provider. The use of telehealth resources is one way they can be flexible as they continue to meet your needs.