Telepsychology

(TAC) Technology Assisted Counselling

With the COVID-19 pandemic occurring, I would encourage new and existing clients to strongly consider TAC for their upcoming appointments as a preventative measure. Please do not come into the office if you are sick or have had known exposure to illness recently. I am seeing clients in person but appreciate if you are not comfortable or well enough to come into the office.

Stepping into counselling of any sort for any issue is a big step so congratulations on getting to this point in your journey!
Technology Assisted Counselling (TAC) is therapy that is offered by phone or video conferencing. This can be used as a complement to in person sessions, for instance when people have limited time on a certain day, inability to travel to the office, or are physically unwell but would still like to participate in counselling. It can also be the only modality for counselling service delivery, which works well for people who may be limited in their mobility, live in rural or remote locations, or are more comfortable with phone or video calling than face-to-face but are interested in exploring counselling. People are increasingly turning to TAC to support them in their mental health and recovery journey, especially in recent months with the pandemic occurring. It has been amazing how open people have been to embracing TAC and we suspect this will continue into the future. People are determined to look after their mental health and it is a privilege to be able to offer services without being tied to in-person sessions.

What Are the Benefits of TAC?

The benefits to TAC are similar to the benefits of in-person therapy in that it provides:

What Are the Downsides of TAC?

Of course, with anything there are pros and cons. It is important to be considerate of all angles before making a decision about whether to pursue TAC or not. Some commonly reported downsides of TAC include:

Please take some time to consider the benefits as well as potential downsides for you personally before deciding whether to proceed with TAC. The relationship with your therapist is an essential part of the counselling process so it is important that you have a modality that allows you to experience this connection.

What Issues Are Addressed Using TAC?

Many people wonder if their particular symptoms or area of concern can be addressed using TAC. Sana Psychological is a private practice that typically deals with mental health and Addiction-related issues and these are all issues that can effectively be addressed using TAC. Hypnotherapy sessions are also available via phone or video and these follow an identical structure to an in-person hypnotherapy session. The main difference is that you will be responsible for creating a relaxing and calming atmosphere in your environment in order to facilitate the benefits of a hypnotherapy session.

Treatment Approach

TAC counselling can be a short-term process, particularly if you already have good self-awareness, support network, and self-care resources. Even those with these coping tools appreciate the opportunity to check in every few months or even once or twice per year to ensure they are staying diligent and accountable to their mental health plan.

For those who are new to TAC counselling, those who may have spent limited time self-developing and reflecting, are experiencing more severe issues, and/or have multiple challenges they are dealing with, TAC counselling may be a longer, more intensive process.

For all individuals, sessions are recommended every 1-3 weeks initially depending on where you are at. There is always lots to learn about you at the beginning of the counselling process and, the more we know, the better able we can support you in helping yourself. After a few sessions at this frequency, it may be appropriate to expand the time frame to sessions every 2-6 weeks. This will be collaboratively decided between you and your psychologist, Paige Abbott.
Paige would prefer to see people over a longer period of time than condense sessions into a short window of time. TAC counselling is usually most intense for the first 3-6 months, than it may terminate if you would like, or can continue at a check-in pace at 6+ months. Life is chronic and mental health issues often are too, so Paige is there to support you, even as issues and treatment focus change. If specific issues are not remediating or shifting, alternative recommendations and referrals can be provided. From Paige’s perspective, the door is always open so even if you leave counselling for a period of time, you are always welcome back.
The initial 1-2 sessions will involve gathering as much background information as possible about you, including: Strengths, available coping network and tools, and challenges. Information is gathered to know about all parts of you, not just your relationship with mental health. Mental health counselling is about much more than just your symptoms and will involve exploration and development of relationships, self-care, communication, boundaries, and more.
Paige Abbott has been trained in Cognitive-Behavioural Therapy as well as Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and also incorporates elements of solution-focused therapy and motivational interviewing. Follow-up appointments generally involve a check-in to see presenting issues and immediate things that have come up that you may want to process, follow-up on any suggestions provided in past appointments to get an idea of progress as well as roadblocks that are coming up, followed by more in-depth exploration of challenges, patterns, and coping. Sessions are active and engaged as Paige likes to ask lots of questions and provide reflections, challenges, and psychoeducation along the way. At any point if the therapeutic approach or goals need to be changed, please speak up and this will be processed. Sessions come from a non-judgmental, compassionate, empathetic place. We are here to support you in doing different and being different.

Logistics

At Sana Psychological, TAC is currently offered using phone or online video conferencing using software that is encrypted and privacy compliant based on the standards of my provincial licensing body. If you decide to proceed with TAC, you will be provided an additional consent form for TAC services that outlines more specifics around the process, logistics, pros and cons. You will also be provided clear directions on how to access services when you choose this option.

Cost is $200/session. Sessions are available to anyone who is in the province of Alberta at the time of appointment as this is Paige Abbott’s jurisdiction of licensure. Payment options include cash, credit card, e-transfer, and direct billing with a number of different insurance carriers.
Counselling using TAC can be short or long-term, depending on your needs. Paige Abbott, Registered Psychologist at Sana Psychological, prefers to meet with people over a longer period of time (6+ months) to ensure sustainability and maintenance of progress as mental health issues tend to ebb and flow. If this does not work for your needs, that is okay too. We will do as much work as we can in the available sessions to get you building a healthy recovery plan that you can tailor as needed. All it takes to get started is an e-mail, phone call, or text to request an appointment.
Wherever you are at, Sana Psychological is happy to support you in your journey. Do different, be different!