Telehealth: What is it and does it work?

During these challenging and uncertain times, we at Marsden Clinical Psychology would like to reach out and communicate the ways in which we are continuing to care for you and our broader community. 

As a nation, as a community and as individuals we are facing extraordinary changes to our everyday lives – with many of us feeling unsettled and uncertain as we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19. It is important to acknowledge that 0ur mental health is equally as important as our physical health during this time. 

In the effort to provide the best care possible for our patients, we are now introducing the optionof therapy sessions conducted via Telehealth technology outside the ‘walls of the clinic’. 

What is Telehealth? 

Telehealth therapy sessions utilise telephone or online video conference technology, such as Zoom or Doxy. Our preference is to use online video calls because this method enables our psychologists and clients to participate in a form of ‘face-to-face’ therapy. 

Why Telehealth? 

The health and safety of our patients and our staff is most important to us. However, your treatment is also of utmost importance to us. Online video sessions are an easy-to-use alternative to face-to-face therapy, that will enable us to increase the flexibility and accessibility to our services.

Numerous studies have found psychological treatment provided using videoconferencing technology to be just as effective as a face-to-face appointment for a variety of mental health problems. Here are some links to research studies below if you would like to know more: 

Research study one.                         Research study two.  

We’d like to note that the option of online sessions is exactly that, an option. We will continue to run face-to-face sessions from our Wollongong and Woonona Clinics, in accordance with the Australian Government’s recommendations and regulations (OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19).

What equipment will I need to access the service? 

You will need access to a comfortable, quiet, private space; a device, i.e. smartphone, laptop, iPad, computer, with a camera, microphone and speakers; and a reliable broadband internet connection. 

How can I make the most of Telehealth therapy?  

To combat the mindset that online therapy requires less commitment, and to minimize distractions, we encourage you to set clear boundaries for yourself, during online therapy sessions.For example, we suggest closing other computer programs/tabs, shutting the door and committing fully to the session as there ‘in-person’ 😊. 

Will the session be private? 

What we are doing as a practice:Our psychologists will be using online video conference technology that adheres to the appropriate security protocols, in compliance with Australian Privacy Laws. The transfer of data is secure from end-to-end on our selected platforms, meaning content is inaccessible to external parties.

What you can do: For clients who live in a smaller or busier home, you may need to get creative! Do you have an outdoor location that is private? Can you schedule therapy for a time when children are occupied or being watched by someone else? 

We also encourage you to use headphones if being overheard may be an issue. Likewise, you can always mute your microphone momentarily (just remember to unmute to speak 😊). 

How do I prepare for my Telehealth session? 

How long are Telehealth sessions?

Sessions are the same length as regular sessions, approximately 50 minutes.

What if I’m not sure if Telehealth is for me?

We understand that the idea of Telehealth can be daunting. Your psychologist will be more than happy to discuss any questions or concerns you may have. If you’re not sure if Telehealth is for you, we’d encourage you to give it a try and see what you think. Lots of people are surprised by how similar it is to face to face.

How do I pay for sessions?  

As we have now moved to virtual reception (i.e. our admin team are working from home), payments are processed using your credit card details, as is discussed with you at your initial appointment. 

Medicare are now offering rebates for Telehealth sessions under a GP mental health treatment plan, similar to if you were to see your psychologist face to face. However, this is not applicable yet for children under 16 years of age. If you have concerns paying privately for your child to see our psychologists, please discuss this with our practice manager, Sophie.  

Additional Resources: 

For a number of ways to support your mental health during self-isolation, resources are available through the Australian Psychological Society (Maintaining your Mental Health during Social Isolation).