When can we go back to the office?!
About done with telehealth and Zoom? Want to have in person appointments again? Me, too! The puzzle is: how to manage exposure to Covid 19.
Luckily, the state of Colorado provided a 9 page document specific to mental health providers on Fri June 12th. While I won’t bore you with the details (and they are aplenty!), I will copy and paste the most direct response:
Am I able to hold in-person sessions at this time?
Answer: Recognizing that many assessment and therapeutic practices are difficult, if not impossible, to conduct virtually, outpatient mental health services are allowed in person, provided precautions for social distancing, cleaning/disinfecting, patient screening, personal protective equipment etc. (outlined in the matrix above) are followed. However, the use of telehealth services are still recommended whenever possible in order to limit face-to-face contact.
As such, for now, we will continue to use telehealth. Benefits of telehealth are abundant: ease of access, easier to schedule/reschedule, no travel, no traffic, no stairs, no germs. Research indicates that telehealth is as effective as in person meetings. Therapists have noted that telehealth has sometimes allowed clients to broach topics that were to challenging to discuss in person.
Downsides to telehealth: it is different, it is “weird,” we miss seeing each other, and there is just something special about in person contact.
My decision about in person v. telehealth will continue to be impacted by state guidelines, and by actual research/current numbers. When I consider the notion that my office might be a place where Covid 19 could be shared with others, I cringe.
None of my clients nor friends want to participate in the spreading of disease. Also, food for thought: once we meet in person, we are obligated to keep a log of in office contacts, for contact tracing…which is great from a contract tracing perspective and also will not be comfortable for people who truly value their privacy. If you want that higher level of privacy, consider continuing with telehealth.
If you still need/want telehealth once the office has re-opened, I suspect that will be a possibility. We are able to use telehealth because the state changed their regulations. Yay to the state for adapting! I’m hopeful they continue to let us use telehealth after this pandemic, if it is clinically appropriate.
In sum, I’m not going back to the office quite yet. See you on zoom!