Please Note: If you have a significant history of mental illness, distance counseling may not be the proper service for you. If you are feeling suicidal, please stop what you are doing and call 911 or 1-800-SUICIDE. This is not a crisis line.
What is distance counseling?
Distance counseling is the delivery of counseling by mental health professionals via secure video, phone, chat, email, and other technology mediums.
Is distance counseling effective?
Yes, studies from leading institutions have shown similar treatment outcomes when comparing distance counseling with face to face counseling. Distance counseling improves convenience, reduces costs, and enables clients to see counselors who are not located in their geographic area. Please note: In some cases, distance counseling may not be an adequate replacement for in-person mental health treatment. We do not recommend distance counseling for clients in crisis or with chronic or severe conditions.
Is distance counseling legal?
Yes, distance counseling is recognized and regulated by many state licensing boards. Medicare and Medicaid recognize and reimburse online counseling through specific guidelines. To meet compliance requirements, DT CounselorConnect requires mental health professionals to meet the licensing or telemedicine regulations in the client’s home state. Government regulations and licensing boards are rapidly evolving to expand telemedicine access. Clients and providers of distance counseling should become familiar with the regulations governing online counseling in their state before engaging in sessions. Many of the mental health professionals listed on this site are licensed in multiple states.
Is distance counseling secure?
Yes, DT CounselorConnect uses Google Hangouts for teleconferencing and video chat. All Google Hangout video and audio streams are encrypted. This means that clients can enter a session securely, and all participants can only join a video chat if they are invited and approved. All communication between a client and counselor is encrypted in transit and deleted after a session. DT CounselorConnect does not have access to any client medical records. DT CounselorConnect does securely and confidentially store basic identifying information necessary to schedule appointments. For your security, we strongly recommend that you do not engage in distance counseling on public computers.
Is distance counseling covered by insurance?
In most cases, distance counseling is not covered by private health insurance plans. Since 2004, distance counseling and telepsychiatry is reimbursable through Medicare, Medicaid, and a growing number of insurance plans. For Medicare reimbursement, clients generally must receive treatment at an eligible originating site, such as a doctor's office, hospital, nursing facility, mental health clinic, or similar facility. Some private payers often do not have the same locality restrictions. It is recommended that clients contact their insurance carriers for more information regarding coverage. More details on reimbursement are also available through the American Telemedicine Association.
How much does it cost for a counseling session?
Since most private insurance companies do not yet consider telemedicine a reimbursable health expense, all payments are made by the client. Payments can be made at the time the appointment is scheduled or on the day of the appointment with the counselor. Fees for counseling sessions vary from counselor to counselor but range from $60 U.S. dollars to $140 U.S. dollars a session depending upon which counselor is selected. In some cases, counselors have a sliding fee scale based-upon income levels. Prior to making an appointment, the client should contact (either via phone or email) the counselor he/she has selected to determine if his/her income level qualifies for a sliding scale fee. Payment types accepted are Visa, Mastercard, Discover and Echeck.
What technology do I need to do distance counseling?
Your technology needs will depend on what types of counseling you choose. At a minimum you will need an internet connection and a web browser. For phone counseling, you should have a landline, cell phone, or Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) number. For video counseling, you should have a web camera and microphone or headset. For email and chat counseling, an internet connection and web browser are sufficient. In most cases mobile devices, mobile hotspots, and mobile device tethering will create an inferior connection and counseling experience. To learn more about the factors which impact video/chat quality, and the equipment needed to improve connections, click here.
Are counselors licensed / credentialed?
DT CounselorConnect verifies that mental health professionals are credentialed and in good standing. However, you could separately confirm a counselor's credentials through your state's licensing board. Non terminally-licensed counselors are not allowed to use this service unless they are supervised by a licensed professional in their state. All counselors who are under supervision will provide full disclosures on their profile page.
Because a mental health professional 's credentials are highly dependent on the professional's state and scope of practice, DT. CounselorConnect cannot certify a professional's credentials are sufficient for his/her practice.
How do I make an appointment?
From the HomePage click on an Available counselor's photo profile. This will allow a review of his/her background and credentials. His/her contact information is there should you need further information before making an appointment. When ready to make an appointment, click on the "Schedule Now" button and you will be directed to the Appointment Page. Follow the steps on this page for making an appointment with a counselor. Click here for Instructions to Make an Appointment
How do I know that my appointment has been confirmed?
Once you have made an appointment and click submit, you will receive a note on the appointment page that says the appointment has been scheduled. The counselor will then receive a notification of a scheduled appointment. In turn, the counselor will update the status of the appointment to confirmed and an appointment confirmation email will be sent to the email address you provided. The counselor will also send you an email WebEx meeting invitation to the email address you provided. Save this email as you will need to click on the "Join Now" button within the WebEx email on the day and time of your appointment.
If you do not receive a confirmation email for your scheduled appointment within 2 business days, please contact the counselor via the email address or phone number provided in their profile.
How do I meet with my counselor on the day of my appointment?
On the day of your appointment, allow 5-10 minutes before your scheduled time to get onto your computer, ipad, iphone, etc. Click the "Join Now" button in the WebEx meeting invitation that you received from your counselor. It may take up to 5 minutes to update media and audio files before you are connected to the meeting. Once this is complete, click on the "Join audio through the computer" red button to enter the WebEx meeting.
If you use your phone to call in with the telephone number provide for the meeting, you may not be able to hear your counselor if they are using the computer audio. It is important to be in a quiet room. A headset with microphone may be beneficial to audio quality. If you have any technical problems during the session, please contact your counselor at the phone number provided in their profile on our website. Payment, if not made in advance, is collected at the beginning of the session.
How are counselors paid?
Clients currently pay counselors before a session through our on-line appointment scheduling application. Clients must use a credit card to pay for counseling sessions. Visa, Mastercard and Discover are accepted. Echeck is an option if a client does not have a credit card.
Can I see a counselor who is not licensed in my state?
Listed counselors strive to maintain compliance with state and federal and licensing board regulations of mental health professionals. These regulations are not always detailed on how mental health services should be delivered via electronic mediums. States generally allow online mental health services when professionals are licensed in the client's state and practicing within ethical and legal guidelines. (Please note that clinicians licensed in your home state may not reside in that state.)
Because a mental health professionals credentials are highly dependent on the professional's state and scope of practice, DT CounselorConnect cannot certify that a professionals credentials are sufficient for his or her practice.
A client may choose to select Coaching and can then select any counselor as coaching is not governed by state to state licensing requirements. Note, however, that the counselor may determine after the first appointment that professional counseling is more suitable for the client's needs. In that situation, the client would need to see a mental health counselor licensed to practice in his/her state of residence.