During this time of concern about the spread of COVID-19, mental health providers are arranging their spaces to provide more physical distance between them and their clients, doing thorough disinfection between appointments, and keeping themselves informed on local, state, and national developments that could impact their practice.
Many analysts and therapists are opting for “telehealth”—meeting via a video or audio call—for some or all of their patients. This method is a good option for preventing the spread of the virus, and can be convenient, inexpensive, and secure.
Person-to-Person and Social Media Apps
Normally, services like Facebook Chat, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype would not be acceptable options for conducting telehealth sessions, as they are not HIPAA-compliant.
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the US Department of Health and Human Services has temporarily relaxed their enforcement of HIPAA restrictions so that providers who have not used telehealth services can move to remote appointments quickly.
Under this Notice, covered health care providers may use popular applications that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype, to provide telehealth without risk that OCR might seek to impose a penalty for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules related to the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. Providers are encouraged to notify patients that these third-party applications potentially introduce privacy risks, and providers should enable all available encryption and privacy modes when using such applications
Here are links to some resources for using telehealth as a mental health care provider.
The American Psychoanalytic Association has urged all of its members to provide remote mental heath services.
The American Psychological Association has an extensive guide about telepsychology that may answer a lot of your questions about using telehealth in your practice.
The International Psychoanalytic Association has compiled a page full of resources for analysts and therapists during the COVID-19 outbreak, including papers, articles & videos, workbooks, journals, and telehealth recommendations. Check out that page of resources here.