There are many people who hesitate or refuse to see a therapist based on perceived obstacles and fears. Making the choice to open up to a stranger about one’s deepest feelings and challenges isn’t easy for those in communities that stigmatize mental health issues or for those who are more reserved or facing an anxiety disorder. Or if someone lives in a small town or rural community, finding a therapist within driving might seem to require way too much time. If you’ve ever chatted with a struggling friend who refused to seek help from a mental health professional, you’ve probably heard a list of therapy fears.
Today, we’re looking at three of these barriers to therapy and how using Hushmail as a practitioner could be your answer to easing these individuals into care. Hushmail isn’t just good for you, the practitioner. It’s also good for your client.
“I just don’t have time”
Potential clients may have difficulty finding a therapist they like close to home. This is particularly a problem in small towns and rural areas. When you include drive time and time filling out forms in the waiting room, a doable 60-minute session could easily become an impossible two or more hours. Fortunately, telehealth has made it possible for anyone to find a therapist they like, no matter where they live.
Hushmail allows clients to fill out the necessary forms for virtual therapy sessions conducted in the comfort of their home. You can also quickly and conveniently assess your clients at home for depression, anxiety, alcohol use disorders, PTSD, and other disorders using self-administered questionnaires that deliver a score upon completion. These questionnaires and assessments give you an easy way to evaluate and connect with clients before the first session. This doesn’t just give clients back valuable time, it also eliminates numerous barriers that could seem insurmountable to someone struggling with anxiety or other mental health disorder. Clients can see you and benefit from your care without having to “dress to go out,” get in a vehicle, or navigate the outside world.
“There’s such a stigma!”
It’s unfortunate, but even though seeing a therapist is more widely accepted than it was ten years ago, not everyone believes in the power of therapy. Some social and cultural groups stigmatize getting help, portraying it as a sign of weakness, or an individual might have friends, family members, a partner, or spouse who might not support them if they feel the need to talk to a professional. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but for some people, a stigma still exists when it comes to getting help for their mental health.
Even if there is a stigma, that doesn’t have to stop a person from seeing a therapist. Today, there are so many ways to seek help, it’s quite possible to keep the fact that you’re seeing a therapist completely confidential, even in a full house or gossipy social circle. Hushmail makes it easy with encrypted email and web forms.
The days of walking into the one therapy office in your small town, only to find your high school nemesis in the waiting room, are gone. For one thing, telehealth makes it possible for potential clients to look outside of their town for a therapist. And forms that can be filled out and signed from the comfort of home minimize or eliminate time in the waiting room where clients might see people they know.
If you have a Hushmail account, then your clients get all of the benefits of confidential, encrypted email and web forms at no charge to them. When you pay a low monthly or annual fee to give them this peace of mind, your clients will get to use the Hushmail private message center to communicate with you. All they need to do is set up a passphrase, and they’ll be able to log in anytime they want to read and respond to messages or fill out forms. If you’d like an easy way to explain to your clients why you chose Hushmail and how to use the message center, download and send your clients this helpful PDF:
Not only is using encrypted email important for protecting your clients’ privacy, it’s also required by HIPAA. Using a non-encrypted email service for therapy is not HIPAA compliant. To make sure that your emails and forms are secure, it helps to pay attention to a few important details:
- Don’t send group emails
- Be careful of what you put in your subject line (subject lines aren’t encrypted)
- Be sure to encrypt by enabling the encryption switch
“I could never open up like that to a stranger”
This is a fear we can probably all relate to on some level. Talking about painful details of your life to anyone can be difficult, but sharing them with a complete stranger can seem impossible for a private or reserved person, let alone someone struggling with social anxiety or other mental health disorders. However, as suggested by the article in Psychology Today, Social Anxiety in the Digital Age, online communication can make it easier to open up.
Some research supports the idea that many individuals with social anxiety prefer communicating online. A 2016 meta-analysis in the journal Computers in Human Behavior showed a correlation “between social anxiety and feelings of comfort online.” Computer mediated communication offers a few key features that may appeal to socially anxious individuals: “text-based communication with reduced audio and visual cues,” “anonymity,” and asynchronicity (i.e., there is no immediate need to respond). In other words, some of the social cues required of face-to-face communication are absent. These cues often present a source of worry and discomfort for the highly socially anxious. “Gestures, facial expressions, eye contact … these are the subtle features of social interactions that people with social anxiety disorder will often have a problem with,” says Hofmann. It makes sense, then, that they might feel more comfortable in a digital environment.
Oftentimes, it’s not a matter of social anxiety but a preference for written communication over verbal. If someone typically becomes tongue-tied when trying to express themselves out loud, a face-to-face therapy session can be intimidating and unproductive. However, finding a therapist willing to communicate via email can make the client more comfortable, allowing them to finally get the help they need.
As a therapist, you can choose when you’re available for this type of communication and to whom you’d like to offer it. Just be sure to clearly set communication expectations with your clients so everyone is on the same page.
Ready to start using Hushmail to communicate with your clients?
Hushmail is free for your clients to use and affordable for your practice. Find the perfect plan to get your practice started with Hushmail for Healthcare.
We’re looking at three barriers to therapy – 1) lack of time; 2) stigma; and 3) fear of opening up to a stranger – and how using Hushmail as a practitioner could be your answer to easing individuals into care. Hushmail isn’t just good for you, the practitioner. It’s also good for your client.