As of today most schools in our area are closed for at least the next few weeks, colleges are doing classes online, and many non-essential businesses are to be closed. We are to be practicing “social distancing”, or minimizing contact with others, in order to slow the spread of the Coronavirus or Covid-19.
I follow many other therapists on Instagram and several therapist groups on Facebook and there is no consensus among providers on what to do here. As counseling or therapy is a necessary service, especially during these uncertain times, therapists do agree that we must continue to provide our services, and to offer clients different options to do so. Some therapists are providing strictly online (video) or phone sessions, some are seeing whichever clients who want to come into the office, and some are doing both.
As Director at Matthews Counseling & Coaching, I have decided to offer clients different options to continue services with us, or to be able to begin services if they wish. Clients may choose an option that works best for them. At this time we are offering:
Traditional, in-office therapy: Staff are cleaning and disinfecting the office each day and avoiding contact to the extent possible (not shaking hands, not sharing pens, not handling client credit cards, etc.). The office is not a high-traffic area and typically only 1-2 therapists are in the building at a time and do not often cross paths, so there would rarely be a crowded waiting room or high likelihood of exposure. Therapists would, of course, stay home if symptomatic or otherwise not feeling well, and would encourage clients to do the same.
Teletherapy (secure, online video sessions or phone sessions): Our staff use HIPAA-compliant technology, including phone and teleconferencing software, to meet with clients virtually who cannot or do not wish to come to the office during this time. This is also an option for clients who do not live close to the office, but might like to see one of our providers.
Walk and talk therapy: Currently only Dr. Jesse Matthews is offering this service. Involves holding sessions while walking local paths during the session time, rather than meeting in the office. This is appropriate for clients who are in physical shape to walk 1-2 miles and who sign a separate release/consent form. This is also weather-dependent, but with spring approaching and warmer weather, it should be possible on most days.
All clients have the option to put their counseling on hold if they decide this is best, and of course they are free to discontinue counseling at any time. Providers will make every effort to put them back on the schedule, and in their desired time slot when they wish to return. However, given the unknown nature of the present situation and the anxiety or other difficulty it may create, it is recommended that clients continue to meet with their provider- at least for a periodic check-in, as they are able. This can help clients not to lose momentum or progress gained in therapy and can provide a helpful outlet. This will also ensure provider availability in the future.
Any questions, please contact Dr. Jesse Matthews: firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-482-4496.