Telehealth counseling can be an incredibly convenient way to access mental healthcare in an increasingly connected world.
As a provider, it offers the flexibility to expand your reach and help those most in need of professional support. If you’re unfamiliar with telecounseling or unsure whether to offer it as a service, this article will help you make the right decision for your practice.
Eager to get started? Try Quenza’s one-month trial for just $1 to work along with this guide and design your telehealth counseling solutions.
What is Telehealth Counseling?
Telehealth is an umbrella term for a vast array of digital services that help individuals with their mental health challenges. Telehealth counseling, also known as digital, online, or e-therapy, refers particularly to remotely delivered mental healthcare that is used alongside or as an alternative to face-to-face counseling.
Clients can work with a professional from anywhere with an internet connection with telehealth counseling, most commonly using secure and encrypted:
- Videoconferencing software
- Voice calls
- Therapy software, or
- Instant messaging.
The range of mental health challenges that e-counseling can address is wide, but a few examples include:
- Eating disorders, and
- Relationship issues.
With telehealth counseling emerging as a well-established form of mental healthcare, a growing number of practitioners are offering remote treatments to help patients for whom face-to-face counseling is inconvenient or inaccessible.
How To Do Telehealth Counseling
Telehealth counseling, also known as digital, online, or e-therapy, refers particularly to remotely delivered mental healthcare that is used alongside or as an alternative to face-to-face counseling.
There are two main ways to deliver online counseling as a qualified practitioner:
- As a standalone solution, where all of your sessions and interactions with clients occur digitally, or
- As part of a blended counseling approach. Here, face-to-face sessions and remote interactions can be combined to form a ‘blended’ or hybrid treatment plan that suits both you and your patients.
Because both have their advantages, there’s no one best solution. Ultimately, choosing the right arrangement for you will involve some thought about what best suits your counseling style, resources, and practice goals.
Having decided on the most appropriate approach for your services, preferences, and clientele, telehealth counseling also offers plenty of flexibility regarding the form your solutions will take.
Synchronous telecounseling refers to live interactions between you and clients, such as counseling sessions over video chat, while asynchronous solutions describe time-delayed solutions where clients engage with your counseling outside of real-time sessions (e.g. worksheets or activities).
Just as online and face-to-face counseling can be combined, synchronous and asynchronous interactions can be integrated in a way that works best for both parties.
Regardless of how you choose to structure your treatments, e-counseling professionally requires you to use a secure and private platform that is compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
You’ll also need:
- A private, quiet place where you can conduct your sessions
- A stable, secure internet connection
- An understanding of the teletherapy laws and regulations in your state, country, or region, and
- Software for designing and sharing online counseling tools with your clients, such as Quenza.
A Look At Telehealth Group Counseling
Despite the relative newness of telehealth group counseling, more practitioners are fast embracing it as an efficient, effective way to support larger groups of participants with their mental health.
While adapting your interventions and approach for an online context involves a little planning, counseling groups remotely can be as straightforward as:
- Creating your participant groups or teams
- Planning and curating your group counseling program or treatment plan, and
- Putting it all into action – by sharing your solutions, facilitating your sessions, and supporting your clients as you would through conventional therapy.
Purpose-built e-therapy software like Quenza is by far the easiest way to run group counseling sessions online, as it is specially designed to simplify your planning, tool design, and progress monitoring.
With dedicated tools like Group Chat, Group Notes, and an online counseling Activity Builder, you can design and deliver personalized solutions that allow for seamless, effective digital group work.
3 Interventions For Your Sessions
Like conventional counseling, teletherapy centers around evidence-based techniques and tools.
You can either adapt your existing tools into an online format to deliver them digitally, or you can modify existing internet-based interventions from ready-made teletherapy templates such as Quenza’s Expansions.
Modifying templates can save you from starting from scratch while leaving you the flexibility to customize their look, feel, and engagement factor.
Here are a few examples of the psychology activities and interventions that can easily be adapted with your clients’ needs, goals, and capabilities in mind.
Visualizing a Compassionate Self
If you counsel clients who are dealing with anxiety or insecurity, Visualizing a Compassionate Self can help them learn to treat themselves with more kindness and understanding.
With this Quenza Expansion, you can help them explore their forgiving, tolerant, and understanding qualities, and visualize themselves as a more self-compassionate version of themselves.
Quenza’s Mountain Meditation features a guided audio meditation that might work well for counseling clients who are looking for a way to cultivate stillness and calm in stressful moments.
This 6-minute meditation helps the listener connect with their inner stability by imaging themselves as a mountain, with all its many qualities and strengths.
The Wheel of Life
Self-awareness assessments often have a very illuminating role to play in all kinds of counseling contexts. With Quenza’s Wheel of Life, you can help your clients explore their satisfaction with different life domains and identify areas that need more attention, for example:
- Friends, and
While this Expansion’s questions, text, and scales are all simple to modify, you might want to create your own bespoke version of this activity using Quenza’s unique Wheel of Life tool!
3 Activities, Games, and Ideas
In addition to the interventions above, Quenza’s Expansion Library includes dozens of games and exercises that you can use as inspiration for bespoke content.
Among other metaphors, lessons, reflections, and assessments, the following list of telehealth counseling activities might work for you and your clients:
- Strength Interview: With this customizable strength-finding activity, you can help groups, individuals, and couples to find their positive traits, qualities, skills, capabilities, and more. A couple of the ten adaptable questions in this exercise include “When do you feel like the “real you”?” and “What activities did you like most when you were a child?”
- Dealing With Guilt Through Writing: Narrative therapy has been shown to help clients who are struggling with feelings of guilt after a mistake or trauma. This exercise invites the reader to explore their thoughts and emotions with a series of writing prompts, then write a better, imaginary ending to their story.
- My Boundary Response Plan: This exercise helps clients voice and defending their limits in situations where they feel they need to stand up for their values. After recalling a scenario where their boundaries were crossed, they explore the emotions associated with the event, before crafting a self-calming plan that they can use in future situations.
Guidelines and Ethics To Consider
Telecounseling is no longer a new concept and online practitioners are bound by the same ethical codes that govern confidentiality in conventional therapy.
Because it uses digital technologies, however, online practice does require that you take extra professional steps to ensure the security of protected health information (PHI) from unauthorized access.
As a rough guide, adhering to the American Psychological Association’s best practice guidelines means that telecounselors must:
- Use a HIPAA-compliant platform (such as Quenza)
- Obtain and retain informed consent documents that specifically relate to teletherapy’s unique risks
- Understand and comply with the relevant teletherapy laws and regulations that govern cross-jurisdictional and international practice.
For a closer look at how you can practice telecounseling in accordance with HIPAA guidelines, check out our guides to Writing HIPAA Compliant Psychotherapy Notes and HIPAA-Compliant Video Conferencing in Mental Health.
Best Platform For Telecounselors
Offering telecounseling as one of your services can be a very big leap, and it’s not impossible to put together interventions, manage clients, and keep track of your programs manually with separate tools for different functions (e.g. spreadsheets, meeting planners, and visual imaging solutions).
If you’re planning to practice professionally, however, all-in-one software like Quenza is a much more straightforward way to manage the transition and scale your practice up over time.
With everything you need to build, curate, and deliver online interventions in a HIPAA-compliant way, Quenza allows you to offer a convenient, personalized, and high-caliber brand of counseling that can ultimately enhance your clients’ outcomes.
9 Digital Tools Included In Quenza
Quenza gives you an entirely unique amount of creative flexibility when it comes to how you counsel your clients – from the way your interventions look to the content you choose to share.
Whether you want to help individual clients or counsel couples, groups, and teams, Quenza gives you a suite of professional tools that are designed to make your job easy and efficient.
Quenza’s digital toolkit includes:
- An Activity Builder for designing unique counseling worksheets, activities, lessons, meditations, and other resources for your clients.
- Pathway Tools that help you curate and sequence your activities into programs, treatment plans, or packages
- An Expansion Library of customizable counseling forms, activity templates, quizzes, assessments, and more
- Group counseling, coaching, or therapy tools for working with up to 50 participants at once
- Live, secure instant messaging with Quenza Chat for private and group counseling
- A White Label feature so that you can feature your brand and custom colors on your solutions
- A Client Notes section that stores your session and counseling notes in Client Profiles
- Access to Quenza Community, for getting support or swapping ideas with other Quenza counselors, and
- The Quenza Client App, your patients’ private portal for all their activities, chats with you, and even reminders and updates.
10+ Handy Forms and Templates
Aside from the Expansions already featured, the following is a list of useful telecounseling forms that you’ll also find in Quenza’s Expansion Library.
- If you want to improve your approach using feedback, The Session Rating Scale helps you collect your clients’ thoughts and feelings about your sessions together
- Quenza’s End of Therapy Evaluation template gathers feedback about how your client felt about issues such as trust, openness, and other aspects of your counseling relationship, and
- The Pre-Coaching Questionnaire can easily be adapted into a counseling intake form that explores your clients’ goals.
7+ Informed Consent Templates
Looking for telehealth counseling informed consent templates?
This Informed Consent in (Online) Therapy article is a wonderful guide full of templates and step-by-step examples to help you.
Telecounseling may come with unique considerations, but one thing’s for sure – it’s here to stay.
Quenza’s toolkit is a marvelously effective way to get acquainted with the ins and outs of digital mental healthcare easily and start offering your services in a way that’s accessible, affordable, and convenient for your clients.
Use this guide to help you set up, run, and grow your telehealth counseling practice, and turn your knowledge into brilliant client outcomes with Quenza’s 1-month, $1 trial.