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July 20, 2020

Maintaining Therapy Confidentiality While Sheltering in Place with Family

4 minute read

Provider Resources Workplace Wellbeing

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the landscape of how we view mental health and therapy. Now more than ever, the need for mental healthcare is at an all-time high, as people cope with sheltering in place for an extended period of time. While stay-at-home orders have been lifted in some states, many businesses—including therapy practices—still remain closed to in-person visits.

In addition, many people are fearful of meeting in-person. According to a survey reported by the Miami Herald, even when the stay-at-home orders are lifted, many people (70%) would rather wait and see what happens than return to normalcy.

Since most therapy practices won’t be opening anytime soon, both patients and therapists have been looking for ways to continue sessions remotely. Luckily, teletherapy is an option for people who want to continue sessions with their therapists. While not every office offers this service, many offices have joined the ranks of already-established online therapy practices.

Teletherapy offers many benefits — you can speak with your therapist on your own time and in the comfort of your own home. However, since many Americans are sheltering with other family members, finding privacy at home can be a challenge. The following five methods can help you maintain patient and therapist confidentiality while in a lockdown situation.

Take the call in a separate room

One of the easiest solutions for maintaining privacy is by going to a different room while you take a call with your therapist. A spare bedroom, a home office, or the basement may be options for you. Some patients and therapists, especially ones with children, may not have the luxury of using an extra room. In instances such as these, even the bathroom or laundry room can be a good place to take a call. Remember to close the vents in the bathroom—sound can travel to other rooms.

Talk while the children are occupied

For parents, the issue of where to take a call may not be as important than the issue of when. Most parents are figuring out how to manage the day-to-day balancing of work, relationships, and their children. However, children need structure—which is hard to maintain when everyone’s home. A well-thought-out schedule that is easy to follow can offer you some opportunity for a therapy session while your children are around.

If you’re able to have a partner or family member present to help out, ask them to watch the children for an hour while you take your call. If childcare help isn’t available, you can schedule a teletherapy appointment while your little one is napping. Naps last for an average of 1-3 hours, depending on the age of a child, so fitting in a session of 50 minutes to an hour is possible.

If your child is closer to school age (elementary school), putting on a movie or a show that they love or scheduling a non-televised activity like reading, painting, or playing outside in the backyard can afford you the time to speak with your mental health providers. Using a nanny cam could allow you to keep an eye on your child while you’re in another room.

Talk in the car

If there are no private places available in the house, your car can give you some privacy, so long as you can maintain a strong wifi or cell connection to meet with your therapist.

Take a walk

If being indoors while sheltering with family or roommates feels claustrophobic, it might be a good idea to take your call outdoors, whether in the backyard, patio, or the amenities area of an apartment complex. 

Many complexes have gyms that aren’t being used or have severely limited the number of people at a time that can use them. Other complexes, especially in southern areas of the US, have pools and surrounding areas that can also be used to speak with a therapist or client. Select areas that aren’t heavily trafficked by other residents to get the privacy you need. 

Opt for a text chat

If the above options aren’t available, you could try another teletherapy choice—online text chat rooms or private chats. 

While not as popular as traditional therapy or teletherapy conducted via video or audio, text chatting with a mental healthcare provider in a private chat room allows some privacy, especially if you are in a situation where you can’t get away from family or roommates. If this is an option you’d like to or can consider, check with your mental health provider to see what would work best for the both of you.

Sheltering in place with family during the coronavirus crisis can itself leave people feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or unsure how to handle new conflicts. Teletherapy options can help you get the mental health support you may need at this time from your care providers while staying socially distanced. Spring Health’s comprehensive mental health benefit for employers makes teletherapy easily accessible for all members. Learn more about how Spring Health can support your team during these challenging times.

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Spring Health is making mental health fundamental by eliminating every barrier to care. Our comprehensive digital platform provides employers and health plans with diverse, inclusive care for individuals and families.