While talk therapy and couples counseling have been around for some time now, a relatively new concept called telemedicine is quickly growing in popularity in the United States. Especially helpful when couples’ work schedules might not sync up for couples therapy, telemedicine provides couples and their therapists with a convenient safe space.
So how exactly does telemedicine and teletherapy work, and how can a couples therapist benefit from incorporating alternative communication channels into their practice?
It often starts with the software.
Unlike some businesses, many therapists don’t have dedicated call centers or contact centers in their practice. This is because having an inbound call center would be fairly cost-prohibitive, not to mention it would take up a good deal of space. Since teletherapy is based on best practices to improve the customer experience, many therapists turn to inbound contact center software.
This helps route each inbound call to the best agent, whether it’s the front desk or a specific practitioner. It also allows for a lower cost than some other communication channels. If you have several people working in the front office, it can even improve agent productivity for all of your inbound contacts and streamline your customer service.
Many telehealth practices rely on things like interactive voice response (IVR) to route inbound calls to the correct counselor or agent without having someone physically answer the phone. It also helps reduce the average handle time without the need to set up an entire contact center environment.
It’s based on convenience.
Say, for instance, you practice couples therapy for LGBTQ couples. While plenty of LGBT couples work traditional hours, plenty of members of the LGBTQ community work in the service industry which entails nights and weekends. Schedules for in-person couples counseling don’t always link up.
Instead, by offering gay couples counseling, lesbian couples counseling, and services for all members of the LGBT+ community via teletherapy, you’re making it easier for your clients to commit to times that work for them. With your inbound call center solution in place, you can then provide exceptional customer service to your clients via a call, texting platform, or other communication channels.
Whether you’re discussing traditional gender roles, intimacy in same-sex relationships, or handling financial obligations for married couples, you’re able to do so when it works for your clients, all while they feel safe in the comfort of their own home.
It is specific.
Take the previous example a step further. LGBT+ couples have unique challenges that not every therapist is adequately prepared to handle. This is especially true if you’re navigating communication issues between individuals with a cultural background that differs from yours.
For instance, a therapist in the United States might specialize specifically in working with gay male couples but may not be the best fit for two women in a lesbian relationship. While there’s always the potential that a counselor can handle every unique situation, it’s more often than not that they focus on specific niches and issues.
On top of this, since teletherapy is most commonly done via phone call, it’s important to focus on customer relationship management as acutely as you can. A same-sex couples counselor is likely going to be able to navigate these issues more delicately than a counselor who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy.
It’s still personal.
Even though the functionality of an inbound call center practice may seem a little detached, teletherapy is still a process that relies on emotional intimacy between the counselor and the patient. Many therapists undergo performance management checks and seek additional training to be able to handle telemedicine more effectively and increase customer satisfaction.
Since telehealth practices usually offer services at a lower cost, you’re likely working with individuals from underserved communities who can benefit greatly from mental health assistance. As in any mental health practices, be it gay couples therapy or heterosexual couples counseling, what’s most important is kindness, compassion, and a desire to help.