With more and more people opting to work remotely, therapists are also able to take this approach with their practice. As a therapist?
Yes. Just like with any job, there are benefits and difficulties with working from home, especially as a therapist. The therapist should be sure that he/she has set up a space that is comfortable for their client, all the while, being sure that it is HIPAA-Compliant. Telehealth, which is the provision of healthcare remotely through telecommunications technology, has become an easy way for therapists to provide services for their clients remotely, from their home and for the clients, from their home.
With regards to the recent pandemic of the COVID-19 virus, this has forced many therapists to work from their homes, via Telehealth services. Although the ease of being able to work remotely from home has its perks (I mean, who doesn’t want to work in their pj’s?!), there are also challenges that many therapists face when it comes to offering their services this way. Follow along as we explore 3 main challenges therapists face when working from home:
Challenge #1... HIPAA
One of the most important things that must be addressed first and foremost is HIPAA-Compliance. Theranest recommends the following for making sure that HIPAA-Compliance is being practiced as it should be. Setting up a room or even a walk-in closet will help to stay secluded from others that may have to be in the home with you. Here are several ways that Theranest recommends you should do to be sure that you are HIPAA-Compliant.
Use noise machines — Noise machines are a therapist’s go-to when it comes to preventing conversations from being overheard. Noise machines can be ordered online and set up strategically outside the door and in the spaces around your session area.
Use earbuds — Earbuds can serve as another layer of protection for preventing others in your home from hearing what a client is saying.
Be sure that family members understand that they cannot interrupt for any reason — Family members need to know that you are not available, just as you would be unavailable if you were in your normal office. Explain why it’s so important that they not interrupt, and hang a sign on your door as a reminder.
Choose a HIPAA-compliant telehealth software — Although Medicare has made special allowances for non-compliant platforms (like Skype and FaceTime) during the pandemic, using HIPAA-compliant software will make your clients feel more comfortable and will prevent issues like the widespread Zoom hacking incidents from hindering the effectiveness of therapy.
Be sure that family members can’t access your client files or other sources of information — If you’re storing files and other client documents in your home, make it clear to family members that these items are off-limits, and be sure not to leave them lying about. If you are storing files electronically have a separate computer. Name it your work computer and only perform work duties on this computer. All files that are stored electronically should be stored in an EHR system that is HIPAA compliant.
Challenge #2... Setting Up Your Boundaries
Boundaries are important in any sort of relationship, even more so in a relationship with a therapist. Clients are pouring their hearts out to, sometimes a stranger, in hopes that the therapist can help them sort out their emotions and what they’re going through. Both the therapist and the client need to set boundaries, and not to push those boundaries. Boundaries are essential for healthy relationships. For therapists, boundaries aren’t just vital for their relationships with family, friends, and colleagues; they’re also critical for their relationships with clients. Therapists should know how far to take a conversation so that their client is comfortable with opening up to them. They should be respectful and not push if a client is not ready to discuss at great length what their problem is. Sometimes the client may be willing to open up right away and sometimes, it will take time to get them to that point. When working from the client's home, the client is more likely to feel comfortable, at ease, in their own environment. It may be easier for the client to open up and provide a focus for processing what they can and cannot say, pushing their own boundaries.
Challenge #3... Staying Organized
Staying organized can be tough, especially if you are working out of your home, or even traveling to a clients’ home, who may otherwise not be able to travel. Here is a short list of 3 things you can do to help you stay organized:
Make time to plan- One of the most helpful strategies for anyone trying to become more organized and productive is to plan out your day. We all have things in our lives that require our attention or unexpected issues, so you should allow some time for when, and if, those things arise. But planning out what you know can control will help you stay organized and on top of things.
Another way to help you stay organized is to plan out your week. For instance, on Monday, allow that day to be when you blog and create content for your practice. Tuesdays can be set aside for paperwork, or office work. Planning out your week ahead may help you keep yourself organized and not putting a big workload on your shoulders to get everything done in one day. It may just help keep your sanity too!
Keep a template of things that you repeatedly do. For instance, if you are repeatedly sending out the same email, make it into a template so that you can easily respond. It will help make the most out of your time.
It is possible to have a successful and rewarding “therapy office” out of the comfort of your own home! It just takes a little planning, a little organization.