In the past, the only way to get help from a therapist, coach, or other helping professional was to commit to weekly face-to-face meetings. But that has changed significantly in recent years, and many believe it’s a positive trend for clients. Remote sessions, or a combination of remote and in-person sessions, are now available from many of the practitioners featured on YourTango Experts such as coaches, social workers, and counselor/therapists.
How does it work?
Typically an Expert will work with you to determine the best method for communication during sessions. Options include: email, chat, video, and phone services with most Experts using phone as the primary alternative to face-to-face meetings.
When you use YourTango Experts to access professionals, you may work remotely with practitioners who are not in your geographic area (or even those who are), provided they offer these services. For many clients, working remotely is an ideal option because it opens up their choices and allows them to select Experts from different areas based on their qualifications, fees and experience. Communicating remotely also offers a much wider choice of practitioners if you live in a less populated area.
Whatever your reason for opting for remote sessions, it’s important to keep in mind that regularly scheduled sessions are still the norm. Just as with office appointments, remote sessions are offered at a mutually convenient time. Experts often offer evening and weekend hours. When scheduling a session, take into account differences in time zones. If you cannot make your appointment time and/or need to reschedule, please give your Expert enough notice so that another person may have your time slot. Most Experts request a minimum of 24 hours cancellation notice.
Some Experts will offer additional contact when helping a client remotely. That means they allow clients to contact them often as they’d like (daily, or more than once a day), by writing private email messages. Often, the messages will be picked up and answered immediately, or within a couple of hours. When offered this service, it is important not to abuse it; a client is expected to have respect and to limit questions appropriately.
Many people who have experienced the depth of traditional, face-to-face sessions are unable to fathom how such a relationship can thrive remotely. They cite some real challenges. When working remotely with an Expert, for example, he or she cannot see you, and therefore cannot interpret facial cues and body language. Likewise, you're unable to see the Expert.
However, technologies through which the Expert and client can see each other are available and are being used. These tech enhancements include video chat, available on most computers, as well as a separate videophone.
All the options:
Phone sessions have been used by helping practitioners for years, and they remain a viable option for clients. Many therapists offer clients the choice to combine phone sessions with face-to-face meetings and web-based communication.
Email allows flexibility, since the two of you don’t have to be online at the same time. You and the Expert can take time with your thoughts and write at length. Secure, web-based message systems are increasing in popularity. Your correspondence is not saved on your computer, so it is safe from prying eyes. However, the only down side is that you can't go back and read it later.
Live, real time chat is preferred by those who want right-now response. But remember: if the Expert is charging by the minute (ask the Expert how this works), you may find this a very expensive way to interact online.
Most Experts believe that videoconferencing is, or will be, the ideal mode for therapists to interact with you online. Because the therapist is able to see you, he/she has much more information.
Paying for sessions:
Experts who work remotely often accept payment via online methods like PayPal. This is a fast and secure way to wire money to an Expert and pay as if you were sitting in their office. Payments are expected at the time of service. You should ask your Expert about all payment options available.
Insurance is rarely available for remote services as most insurance companies want verifiable proof that you’ve attended the session in order to dispense payment. If you want to work remotely with an Expert, you might get a better rate than you would in a face-to-face meeting, but it will be one you have to come out of pocket for personally.
Before choosing remote help from an Expert, ask yourself a few questions:
- Are you in crisis? Generally, a remote relationship with an Expert is not ideal for clients suffering an acute episode.
- What issues are you dealing with? If they are very complex, working remotely may be a short-term solution. If an Expert feels you need more help, he or she will recommend you select another resource closer to home.
- Are you comfortable with the internet? If you are not, you might want an Expert that offers phone sessions or video conferencing.
Some believe that remote help will never replace a face-to-face relationship. However, remote contact with an Expert can be an extremely productive and rewarding experience, offering many of the same benefits as face-to-face sessions. Remote work is becoming increasingly common, and it could be the right option for your needs and lifestyle.