Telehealth Psychology Services in California

Telehealth refers to providing psychotherapy services remotely using telecommunications technologies, such as video conferencing or telephone. Telehealth for psychotherapy is also commonly referred to as Telepsychology, Teletherapy, Telebehavioral Health, Telemental Health, eHealth, etc.  More research is continuing to shed light of the comparable effectiveness of Telehealth psychotherapy to in-person treatment for children[1], adolescents, and adults[2].  However, it is interesting to note that Telehealth services in California have been present since the 1990s[3], although research on Telepsychology started even further back in the 1960s[4].  Telehealth services began in response to people having trouble accessing health care 

(e.g., from living in rural locations, etc.) and from a shortage of health care professionals, whereby these remote services served to bridge the gap in care[5].  Telehealth services gradually grew over time and when the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed the world and wreaked havoc on many major cities, including Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, demand for services increased significantly.  The COVID-19 quarantine and social distancing rules seem to have shifted remote services into the category of the “new normal” as many of us have grown accustomed to having medical and mental health appointments via Telehealth services.     

Pros and Cons of Telehealth

I always encourage people to think about all of the potential pros and cons when making any major decision.  Choosing to work on your mental health can be a difficult decision to make, so it's important to make sure you understand the differences between therapy conducted in-person versus through Telehealth.  Listed below are just some of the pros and cons found by researchers that may help you in your decision-making process.

Pros and Cons

  • Can engage in therapy without being in the same location.  This allows you access to a wider range of providers, potentially finding someone you connect with better and who is more qualified, since you are not limited by location.

  • Can save money on gas and avoid travel time.

  • Requires some level of technical competence on both our parts.  I will guide you through this process to ensure ease of use. 

  • Increased risks to confidentiality, such as other people overhearing your sessions if you are not in a private location.  I will take reasonable steps to ensure your confidentiality on my end, and I strongly encourage you to protect your own confidentiality by only engaging in therapy in a private location, by using headphones if necessary, etc.

  • Technological issues could impact sessions.  We will come up with a plan in case we experience technological issues, such as having a phone conversation if there are internet issues. 

  • Some people may find therapy through Telehealth awkward or less personal initially, but usually people become acclimated over time. 

  • Increased privacy risks, such as unauthorized access to our conversations or stored data.  To decrease these risks, I only use HIPAA compliant products and avoid storing sensitive information in cloud storage.

  • Telehealth services are not suitable if you are in a crisis situation (e.g., actively suicidal) due to the higher level of support and intervention required.  This is why we will talk before beginning treatment to ensure Telehealth is a good fit for you.  Due to the remote nature of Telehealth, I will also work with you to create an emergency plan in case of any potential crisis situations that may arise during treatment. 

  • Telehealth has been found to be similarly as effective as in-person therapy, however, some therapists believe something is lost by not being in the same room (e.g., nonverbal cues).  If you decide to give Telehealth a try and feel that it is not a good fit, I will be happy to help you find referrals for in-person providers in your area. 

  • Due to licensing laws, I am only able to provide treatment to individuals living primarily in California.  

Please note:  This website is for informational purposes only.  It does not represent a therapeutic interaction.  If you are experiencing a psychiatric emergency, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.
© 2020 by Dr. Deckman