There has been increasing talk about the viability of virtual therapy within the clinical setting. I have been using secure HIPAA and HITECH compliant video teleconferencing, telephone and encrypted emailing for about 4 years. I am a seasoned Psychiatric Clinical Nurse Specialist and Psychotherapist who has been working in the field for over 25 years. The idea of using this type of technology was totally foreign to me as recently as 5 years ago. I would not call myself technology savvy, and in fact I was one of the last hold outs for the use of emails. I remember telling my children “why would I use email when I can just call you on the telephone?” Oh how my world has changed – emails, texting, video teleconferencing, blogging, tweeting, etc.
Let me give you a little bit of my personal history, just to assure the readers that I did not come out of the womb with a computer in my hand! I am a grandmother with 6 grandchildren and did not live near my family. I saw my grandchildren a few times a year, and of course I could not make it to the weekend sporting events or school plays. I had a very busy and established traditional psychiatric clinical nurse specialist counseling practice in Delaware. My kids wanted me to move to Virginia to be near them, but the only way to do this, I thought, was to retire and close my practice. The problem with this scenario was that I was not ready to retire; not only did I love my work, but I also was not in the financial position to retire at age 58. So my dilemma, how could I continue working in the field I loved, yet still move near my family?
This article first appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.
Click here to read the entire PDF version of the Overcoming Concerns and Fears about Technology article.
Dr Martha Ireland, a certified distance counselor began her career 25 years ago as a traditional psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders, then five years ago founded Virtual Therapy Connect – a HIPAA compliant web portal offering a variety of distance therapy tools for clinicians. Recently she launched an online initiative to support eating disorder prevention at www.StudentEatingDisorders.info. She also operates a private practice in Virginia and routinely speaks about integrating technology and psychotherapy.
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