So, I’ve sort of mentioned on and off the shift from seeing a counselor to a new format… but didn’t really go into detail.
I’m going to now. 🙂
So, while we were working on the abandonment issues, I’d found myself printing off things I’d written as blog posts, because I knew I would explain it a lot worse verbally.
I’ve never been that much of a people person, and I’m also not a very verbal person… I sort my thoughts out by writing, especially when they are emotion-filled thoughts.
So at one point I joked with her, telling her that someday I was going to find a therapist that could just skip the whole office visit and just read my blog and comment on the posts and be paid for the weekly session.
I’ve made this joke over the years quite a bit. Because it’s got a good sized grain of truth to it. They’d probably have a much better clue on dealing with me than my sitting in front of them trying to fish for thoughts and words
But, this time, she goes "Actually, there is a program that we sometimes tell people about who are homebound, or can’t get away during the week, that is online-based."
So, as she explained it to me, is that therapists can take what they refer to as "after-hours clients".
In real life, these people would mostly be people who were friends of the therapist, or family of friends, neighbors, and so on. Not formal patients, but just people they decide to use their skills to help out.
The people in the online program aren’t officially their patient at their practices, they are officially just people who are "consulting" them as an "advisor"… not legally in their official role, so not required to do keep the same sorts of documentation, aren’t able to bill insurance, can’t make official diagnosis or prescribe medications, and that sort of thing.
Well, what this website does, is connect people who are therapists willing to take on additional after-hours clients in their spare time, to people looking for someone looking to consult with someone, but not really needing it to be full-on patient level depth.
So, it wouldn’t work well for major psych issues, but is designed for cases that are just working through some issues.
They can’t bill insurance, but I’m not sure I will be on insurance come October anyway… and the fee is $40 a week, which is only $10 more than the local clinic’s sliding scale rate… and means I wouldn’t have to be driving across town or worrying about schedules.
So it was decided that I wanted to try it, but that I wanted to get through what we had been working on already first. So we waited until we were at a good transition point between the abandonment issues and dealing with the relationship related ones in further depth.
The website has hundreds of different therapists, all who work professionally and have for at least the last 3 years… and you know exactly who you are working with and their specialties and qualifications. (And google can give you a lot more info about them just from that… lol)
The biggest thing I don’t like about the site is that they don’t let you choose who you want to work with. They have you fill out a questionnaire on what you are looking for, and then write a first message explaining what you are wanting to work on, and they match you with someone they think is the best match. (It does let you request they be male or female, religious, or even gay.)
I can understand why they don’t just have an open request though… with so many different therapists, it would be a mess for people to decide, and be a lot messier administratively, and probably have people who wanted to work with a specific person who would otherwise have decided to be their patient who would just join the site and talk to them cheaper (unless they have a low co-pay.)
In my case, once the first psychologist I’d been speaking with figured out there was a lot more going on with the prince than I’d had any clue about, he felt like another therapist on the site would be a better match, as she works with both the issues that he felt the prince has, as well as mine, and specializes in family relationships. So I ended up being switched part way into the first week.
My new therapist is someone who has young children, and so she is only working part time in her office while they are still little, so she works with clients from the site in addition because she can do so from home, and can do so at whatever moments she has the time during naptime or whenever.
The site itself looks like a chat room, but functions more like a private message board. I can log in and write at any time… in any amount… and she responds generally about once or twice a day. It emails me to let me know when I have a message from her.
Some days she just has one of my messages to read, and other days, I’ve sent up to 5 in a day so far lol.
This works awesome… because I can discuss things in real time, as I’m feeling them. I can explain something bothering me at 2 am, that might not be anywhere near as clear if I were waiting 3 days until an in person appointment.
The thing that I don’t like about the site design is that it shows the most recent posts first, so I have to mention at the top if there are earlier ones to be read first. Minor issue though.
It does also have a "shred" button for each post… so that if it’s an issue that might cause trouble if someone were likely to get the password (like domestic abuse, etc), you can erase the past discussion.
And it actually would be really good for cases that do need secrecy or where the person is scared of being identified, because it doesn’t even require full name… there’s a questionnaire when they are matching you with someone, and they ask you to fill out emergency contact info that your therapist can request from the site if they ever have reason to fear for your safety (it says you are emailed to let you know if they do so), but other than that, it required no private info. The payment system is through a different secure section.
Any other info you give is completely optional.
They do also have an option to send a message to the therapist as urgent to alert them, and to set up phone appointments as well, though I don’t anticipate personally needing either one.
For me, this is working out totally awesome!
I was mostly just interested because of the written factor. It’s just the way I process things better. It might not work as well for an extrovert who processes better verbally.
But I’m finding that the thing I like just as much is the ongoing contact. Instead of a once a week summary, I can discuss on an ongoing basis, and get replies on an ongoing basis… even on weekends and holidays. Getting short daily responses… being able to let her read an email before I send it, and that sort of thing works so much better for me than once a week longer contact.
Again, someone with a different personality might not do as well, if they are someone who needs the probing questions every few minutes to get them to dig deeper. It might actually slow their process down waiting on the back and forth vs having the immediate prodding in person.
But it has been great for what I’m looking for…. and I wish I’d have known it was an option much earlier.
And so, yes, I will give you the link. 🙂