Video Chat Therapy Has Raised Questions About The Variety Of Platforms, Including Skype, Google Meet, Zoom, And FaceTime
Our practice’s transition to working entirely remotely has created increased curiosity about the different video chat therapy platforms available, including Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, and FaceTime. The truth is: people are using all sorts of virtual platforms for everything now when social distancing (yoga classes, cocktail hours, etc.). Therapy is no different. While we have years of experience providing online therapy for individuals, couples, and families, using a variety of video conferencing platforms, we have understandably been answering more questions than ever recently. Below are the answers to a few common questions:
Which is the best option for video therapy: Skype, Zoom, Google Meet, or FaceTime?
Short answer: all the platforms for video chat therapy are similar in terms of quality and are all user-friendly. They have similar bugs, glitches, special features, and provide the same thing: a relatively high-quality virtual office to meet your therapeutic needs.
The longer answer relates to confidentiality and privacy in video chat, about which concerns have been raised during COVID-19. As you may know, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) created national security standards with which to protect sensitive and confidential patient health information. Google Meet and Zoom are HIPAA-compliant; FaceTime and Skype are not.
Some folks are tech-savvy enough to access video chat therapy platforms on various devices. Our patients do remote therapy sessions on laptops, desktop computers, cellphones, and tablets. If you’re worried about setting up the app or running the program, ask your video chat therapist for some help before your appointment. We’re fluent enough in tech-speak to help with most obstacles. We can schedule a quick call or talk you through some steps via email to ensure that you’ll be ready to go before your video conferencing therapy session.
Is therapy better over video chat or phone?
Deciding between using a video chat platform versus phone therapy sessions can be a crucial part of transitioning into remote therapy. For folks who aren’t technology savvy or are shy about using video conferencing, teletherapy sessions are a great option. Even for couples, there are ways to conference call or use a speaker phone and have a successful remote couples therapy session. Privacy is also key; a phone session may allow you to go on a walk or take your remote therapy session to a park to ensure privacy.
Although prioritizing your own comfort and sense of security is crucial to therapy, this isn’t a decision you have to make yourself. Your remote therapist should weigh in on the choice of phone or video chat as well. We might have recommendations based on how well we know a patient, as well as know the work. We also want to emphasize that what remote platform you begin with doesn’t have to be what you use throughout the rest of quarantine. You can play around with a few platforms to see which feels best for you and your therapy, as well as your privacy needs.
Will cellular and home wifi networks hold up well enough for remote therapy sessions to be completed consistently (and at a high enough quality)?
Transitioning to practicing therapy remotely, it turns out the quality for both phone therapy sessions and video conferencing therapy sessions has been good to excellent for individuals and couples. There are, of course, moments when sessions freeze, when folks have to restate a particularly vulnerable self-disclosure, or when the therapist is hard to hear. However, online therapists are well equipped to deal with and provide guidance around these situations.
Therapy does not exist in a perfect vacuum, even in person. There are glitches and awkward moments in real life, and part of the work is learning to tolerate them, as well as talk about them when something feels more than just momentarily awkward. If the phone or Internet connection is lost for the bulk of the session, though, you can work together to reschedule the online therapy session or arrive at a plan B for the future.
For couples therapy, what are the differences between video therapy and phone therapy? What if we’re in quarantine together versus apart?
If couples are self-isolating in the same apartment, there’s not necessarily a “right” way to do the remote therapy session. Couples often choose to use one screen and sit together in the same room. In other instances, it feels better for folks to sit in separate rooms to access the virtual platform from two different devices. If the couple has a strong preference, they should bring their preferences to their remote couples therapist to discuss what makes the most sense for them.
For couples that are quarantining apart, logging in from two different devices is a very effective option. We are fluent in working with three (or more, for our remote family therapy options) screens for the online couples therapy session.