By Anna Conners
As the therapy world continues to change rapidly, many are considering the line between continuing virtual therapy sessions and going back to in-person treatment. Depending on your specialty, this decision may seem clearer for you, as a Physical Therapy specialist may see a greater need for in-person treatment than a Speech Language Pathologist. You may have even just opened your new practice, and are wondering when you’ll be able to return. But whichever specialty you practice in, chances are that the pandemic has affected your normal routine and you’re curious about what your next year will look like…
Points to Consider:
1. Location: If you reside in California, you are definitely aware of the increased restrictions on travel and in-person activities. In this area, there have been multiple lockdowns, curfews established, and restrictions in place for public gatherings and meetings. For example, in Los Angeles a therapist may want to take greater caution to physically visit patients than in a state such as Hawaii, where residents are much less impacted by COVID-19. It’s important to stay up to date on the coronavirus changing guidelines based on the county you reside in, and be sure to follow all related health protocols to ensure optimal safety.
2. Clients: The second consideration is dependent on your client base and their preference: Do they have a a good home or learning environment? What type of therapy do they need? If you were to return to treating them in-person, do you have access to safely conduct sessions in a home or office? All of these questions are integral to deciding whether or not to return to in-person therapy, and a thorough assessment of your client’s needs, home environment, and accessibility is necessary to make the right choice for your unique circumstance.
3. Your Own Health: At a time like this, where the pandemic continues to rage on and cases are rising at a rapid rate, it’s important to first consider your own health, and then the health of your patients. If you are someone already suffering from health conditions, having a low immunity, or living within a family unit, the consideration for your health and safety should be a top priority. Yet, if you are able to be more mobile and have no lingering health conditions, you may be better suited to sooner approach returning to in-person care. It’s all about knowing your limitations and taking calculated risks to ensure your own safety, and the safety of others.
4. Effectiveness: The decision to go back to in-person therapy should be based on effectiveness of treatment and dependent on your therapy specialty. If you are having consistent struggles with telehealth, are unable to connect and benefit your patient, and your specialty requires a more hands-on treatment plan, then it may be best for you to consider a safe way to conduct in-person therapy. Yet, if you have found success and positive results through using teletherapy to conduct your sessions, and are consistently making progress with your clients within your virtual environment, then you may want to consider incorporating teletherapy into your practice for the longterm.
5. Convenience and Cost: One of the greatest benefits of conducting therapy sessions via an online platform is the reduced costs and the convenience of working from home. There are not only many affordable teletherapy options that one can explore, but also there is the added comfortability of being in your own home to conduct your sessions. In addition, costs are cut due to less traveling and less tools used, and precious time with your patient is dedicated to your session within a controlled environment. Lastly, a therapist may even like the fact that due to virtual therapy, they are able to see their clients true home and living situation or environment in real-time, leading to a deeper understanding of the patient.
There are many things to take into account when deciding whether or not to remain at home or work in person again. The desire for normalcy and human connection is innate in all of us, and in-person interaction is an important part of our social and professional lives. But the answer will not be the same for each person, and we must all take special care to ensure our physical and mental health, while doing the same for our clients and colleagues. When you take your location, clients, health, therapy effectiveness, convenience, and cost into consideration, your tailored solution will become very clear.
About Ready Set Connect is a secure HIPAA certified online therapy software for clinicians and educators. We are dedicated to providing better care to patients both in person and virtually.