We’re all experiencing some level of stress and fear about what’s happening in the world and now, more than ever, we need to feel connected to another human who can help us cope with it. I know by now you have all heard of media continuing to recommend “social distancing.” I challenge all of us to reframe this to “physical distancing while remaining socially connected.” Families need the social connection now more than ever. We feel so lucky that we can continue to connecting and providing our therapy services while maintaining physical distance for the safety of our community through Telehealth Therapy.
Providing Consistency In the Ways We Can
In a time when so many of our normal routines (school, extra-curricular activities, going to the office) have been abruptly interrupted, therapy does not have to be added to this list thanks to technology. BPC staff have taking a crash course in Telehealth and are ready to continue serving our clients through this virtual setting.
Just a reminder…therapy is most beneficial when it happens consistently and when a bond with your therapist is developed over time. If therapy were to stop abruptly, the bond between you or your child and the therapist is impacted. If therapy is continued via telehealth, when you return to in-person therapy, it can pick up where it left off without losing progress.
For children, the bond with their therapist provides them with stability and normalcy. It’s important to maintain that relationship, especially with the stress and chaos that kids are experiencing. Kids’ normal lives have been interrupted in a big way. School is cancelled, they’re isolated from their friends and they’re stuck inside the house for an unknown period of time. Maintaining their regular appointments with their therapist will allow them a safe space to express their feelings about all of these changes. Their therapist will help them process these feelings and teach them some skills to cope with them.
What is Teletherapy?
Teletherapy is the use of video and audio technologies to support long-distance services between providers and their clients. It has become more popular in recent years and has brought the benefits of therapy to countless people who may not have had the means or motivation to travel to an office. It has become a valid and beneficial mode of therapy and technological advancements have ensured that sessions are confidential and HIPAA compliant.
A variety of platforms are used for teletherapy and at BPC we use the secure, HIPAA compliant practice management application, Theranest.
Teletherapy with Kids?
Teletherapy is possible and effective with kids! It may sound difficult, but we will walk you through the process and make it simple, effective, and fun for both you and your child. As a parent, you may be more involved in the teletherapy sessions which will offer you a chance to see what goes on during a play therapy session. You will also learn some valuable skills that play therapists use with kids! Some of these skills include:
- Tracking play so that the child is guiding their own healing
- Setting limits during play
- Learning the language play therapists use to validate feelings
As we transition to primary Teletherapy we will typically start with a parent session to check in on how the family is coping with the changes and how we can best support you right now. This might require a full session or part of a session depending on the family’s needs. Before your child’s first teletherapy session, your therapist will e-mail you with a list of supplies needed for the session and a link to join the session. Please see below for a list of commonly needed play supplies to have on hand. Sessions will generally end with the therapist assigning a connecting activity for you and your child to practice before your next session.
Types of Therapy
During teletherapy, play therapists may be using different, but equally effective, forms of therapy than they might in an in-person setting. Some of these include:
Child-Parent Relational Therapy
CPRT give parents skills to respond effectively to the needs of their kids. The therapist teaches parents skills that play therapists use in order to enhance a secure attachment with their child. Parents learn to limit their children’s problem behavior, while demonstrating empathy and respect for their children.
Theraplay is used for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun.
Directive Play Therapy
In directive play therapy the therapist is actively involved, structuring activities by providing selected play materials and encouraging the child to use them in the enactment of situations and the expression of feelings.
Age 6 and under
- Parents must be in the room during teletherapy and will be actively involved in sessions
- Parents must be within hearing distance of the room during teletherapy sessions so that they can step in if there are any technology glitches.
- Child clients over the age of 12 are encouraged to have a private room for teletherapy with an adult supervising from another room.
- The child should have a confidential space for their teletherapy session and parents should continue to respect the confidentiality of the child’s conversations with the therapist.
Play Therapy Telehealth Supply List
For child sessions, your therapist will communicate with you about what supplies you’ll need to gather for each session. Please download our Telehealth Supply List for basic items you should have available if possible. These include:
- Plain paper
- Colored construction paper
- Rocks (have child collect from yard)
- Collection of small toys
- Baby doll
- Doctor kit
- Play kitchen dishes
- Toy gun
- Deck of cards
Tips for Successful Teletherapy
Equipment needed for telehealth sessions:
- A computer, tablet, or phone (no applications or software to download).
- An external or integrated webcam.
- An external or integrated microphone.
- An internet connection with a bandwidth of at least 10 MBPS. We recommend an Ethernet cable over Wifi when possible to ensure you receive the best possible connection through your internet provider. You can check your internet speed here.
- Shut down all background applications to ensure Telehealth receives the majority of your internet’s bandwidth, especially applications that use your camera.
How to make telethealth successful and glitch-free:
- Test your audio and video before your session
- Close all other browsers
- Use Headphones
- Be in a space that has good lighting
- Be in a quiet, confidential space
- Have a little space available for movement (for kids)
Before your first session, review How to Join Your Telehealth Session and click on the link that your therapist will provide for you to join the session.
Your Therapist Will Support You
Allow your therapist to support you in whatever ways you need it in this time. You might need help creating a plan for while your kids are out of school or maybe you just need to process your feelings about the crisis. Your therapist is here for you and will support you with whatever you need. Some of these needs might include:
- How to talk to kids about COVID-19
- How to maintain structure and routine
- Planning daily schedules
- How much news information to share with kids
- Stress and anxiety management for parents
- Processing feelings about COVID-19
BPC is continuing to assess the needs of our clients and community and we are brainstorming the best ways for us to offer support. Please contact us with anything you think would be helpful for you and your family. Maybe it’s offering a tele-support group for parents, a social tele-group for kids or teens, or reduced-rate counseling for families needing support. We are here for you!