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Why virtual therapy isn’t as scary as you think

By Maggie Brown | April 29, 2020 | 4 min read | Healthy Lifestyle

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Until a month or so ago, I had never turned on the video feature in Skype. I had never Zoomed. I’d only used FaceTime or other video chat apps very rarely, like if I were out of town on my birthday and my sister insisted on singing for me. I was always more of a face-to-face person.

Now, like most Americans who are staying home, video work meetings (and virtual play-dates, story time, math lessons, and visits with grandparents) are the new norm, and I’ve followed suit. I even have a virtual obedience lesson with our dog trainer scheduled.

So it makes sense that we would also make the switch to telehealth with our health care providers during the pandemic. Seeing a provider virtually limits the risk of COVID-19 exposure, with the added bonus that you don’t even have to shower. Most specialties (including cardiology, dermatology, and mental health) can easily translate to virtual visits without skimping on quality.

And yet it’s still a bit awkward for some of us. We are totally cool with doing a virtual happy hour with our besties, but a therapy session from our living room feels… weird.

But let me tell you – it’s really not.

My experience with virtual therapy

I know my mental health is more important now than ever. That’s true for many of us who are experiencing pandemic panic. So when my therapist started offering telehealth visits last month, I jumped on board. We’ve now had two biweekly sessions, with more sessions scheduled indefinitely through the pandemic.

Our virtual sessions are very much like our in-person ones. I miss her cozy office where she offers me hot tea, but now I make my own tea and find a corner of the house to hide in for privacy. Thank goodness for door locks.

Seeing her face and hearing her voice is comforting, even if it’s through my laptop. And having someone hold me accountable for self-care and self-improvement is so helpful right now. Otherwise I’d go into full-blown sloth mode.

I encourage anyone who has been seeing a therapist to continue, virtually. If he or she does not offer telehealth, find someone who does, even if it’s just for the duration of the pandemic. The best way to do this is to simply contact a provider and ask, or check out their website. If you are a Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) member, these visits are covered the same way they would be for an in-person visit.

You can also try apps such as MD Live if covered by your insurance. Have a weird rash? Telehealth. Need routine medication management? Telehealth. Follow-up visit? Telehealth.

Am I looking forward to when I can once again have visits with my providers face-to-face? Of course. But telehealth is the perfect option until that time.

 

All announced COVID-19 measures apply to Blue Cross NCs fully insured, Medicare Advantage and Federal Employee Program members. Drug coverage and pharmacy changes apply to Blue Cross NCs Medicare Part D members. Self-funded employer groups have the option to include the waiver of costs and prior approval for testing in their employees plans.

MDLIVE is an independent company that is solely responsible for the telehealth services it is providing. MDLIVE does not offer Blue Cross or Blue Shield products or services. Availability depends on location at the time of consultation. Telehealth services are subject to the terms and conditions of the member’s health plan, including benefits, limitations and exclusions.

Telehealth services are not a substitute for emergency care. Telehealth benefits are available to all plans either from Blue Cross NC or through the provider network. Blue Cross NC provides the telehealth program for your convenience and is not liable in any way for the goods or services received. Blue Cross NC reserves the right to discontinue or change the program at any time without prior notice. Decisions regarding your care should be made with the advice of a doctor. Depending on your plan, selected programs may not be available to you at this time. Check with Blue Cross NC Customer Service to determine your eligibility. Blue Cross NC has contracted with a third-party vendor independent from Blue Cross NC to bring you telehealth benefits.