Starting June 2017, Seattle Direct Counseling services will transition from 20% telehealth services (online and phone) to 100% telehealth (not counting presentations, interviews and podcasts, and email communications). This transition begs the question, “What should I look for in a telehealth therapist?”
Here is my short list of things you should look for when seeking a therapist who uses telehealth options as their primary way of delivering mental health and coaching services using accepted technological platforms and devices.
Someone In Your Corner: Why Counseling and Coaching Makes Dollars and Sense
by B. Imei Hsu, BSN-RN, MAC-LMHC, Artist
I hadn’t taken her out for a ride in 18 months. Sleek, black, with a three-gallon tank and 120 miles of giddy-yup per fill-up, my BMW F650 motorcycle had accompanied me the past 12 years through years of marriage, divorce, and singleness, on long commutes to the office, on short rides to chase the Fall leaves, and mini trips to the San Juan Islands. But I was made an offer that I could not refuse. Last week, I sold the bike I had no time to ride this season for the thing that I was making time for: writing a book. And with the value of the bike, I gained a book publishing coach, author, and presenter Patrick Snow to help me get my book finished, edited, and published as a paper book and in all eBook format. The bike also secured his coach-for-life program, to help me grow my own plans to meet the market demand for authors, presenters, and best-practice coaches in my field. Why would I sell my bike for this? Why should you consider hiring a coach? Because it is important to have someone in your corner.
As Skype was headed towards IPO (initial public offering), Microsoft stunned its investors last week with an $8.5M acquisition of the mostly IM (instant message) and voice calls company that has swept its competitors out of the way. Here’s why I think Microsoft’s purchase of Skype is good for business, and particularly why it’s good for you if you’re thinking of purchasing counseling or coaching services.
Already, you’ve seen Skype at work if you’ve watched your local TV station for news, Oprah, or other interview-style shows such as Ellen. Whey you view a PIP (picture in picture) shot, or a side-by-side view of several people being interviewed at one time, don’t be surprised if you see the Skype logo at the bottom of some of those windows. Skype is available to anyone with an internet connection, a computer, the free program, and a connected camera. It works better if the connection speed and camera resolution are good enough to support clean and smooth voice transmission and stutter-free motion.
Why It’s Good
1. Microsoft is good at plumbing. With the exception of Xbox and Kinnect, Microsoft has been razzed for being a software company of the past rather than the future. When it had a chance to bury Apple before the Mac OS 10 released, the world moaned and writhed if they were stuck with the buggy Vista. I swear, some people are still in recovery over Vista, even as they happily galavanted about with Windows 7. [BTW, I do like Windows 7 much better, and I never knowing used Vista before switching to all Apple products. I actually see myself using both OS’s, and in the future, envision a world where more than two OS’s thrive and co-exist competitively but not antagonistically].
But what we learned is this: Microsoft is good at plumbing. They are great with taking something that “is”, and repairing it, marketing, hyping, and launching. Purchasing Skype was not only a good move for Skype, but a good one for Microsoft, as it is within its scope to improve and relaunch as an even better product for business applications with high potential for profit. Just don’t ask MS to destroy Skype and make it over from scratch.
Personally, I am hoping that Skype’s redo will inspire Apple to add even more features to Facetime and give it a run for our money. Super woot.
2. Skype needs a makeover. Sure, we like the puffy cloud with the super “S” logo. But since its rise to popularity, it really hasn’t had much of an overhaul. For people like myself who use it for business purposes, I’m interested to see how Microsoft might develop two sides of this communication platform: social/personal, and business. With video becoming the more dominant aspect of Skype above phone calls, there is also a huge piece in entertainment to develop as well. I’m hearing rumors of how the software giant wants to make Skype more compatible with Social Media. And, will we see Skype in places like healthcare and educational settings? I certainly hope so! If so, I give it the big Imei #WOOT.
3. Microsoft’s purchase of Skype means better service to you if you’re purchasing counseling and coaching services. Skype and video chat therapy is the future, and very soon, it won’t be; it will the present, the NOW. I and a few others are already using Skype and similar platforms to conduct web-enhanced therapy to keep pace with technology, innovation, and the growing complexity of the modern lifestyle. By making Skype a division of Microsoft, Skype will get the attention that it needs to usher in professional services to your home, office, or travel schedule for working people and families.
While we will never replace human interaction, video chatting assists professionals like myself to “meet” individuals and families in need of counseling and coaching with whom meeting IRL (in real life) on a regular basis is either difficult, inconvenient and/or damaging to a family or work schedule, expensive, and/or impossible because of location. People can get the service they want with little or no compromise.
A better platform that works smoothly and looks professional will only serve my clients better and build more confidence on the part of users. Right now, Skype “works”, but it doesn’t have the professional aesthetic I would prefer. I hope Microsoft hosts discussions with developers and business professionals to offer choices to those who wish to use Skype for business, but even if they don’t, I have a good feeling that even developers and insiders cannot deny the business potential for Skype services.
Is there a possibility that Skype won’t be free? Not likely. What I do see is the strong possibility that for better service (i.e. premium services for companies, for example), Skype will offer additional packages for voice, video conferencing, and multiple-screen group conferencing (like Watchitoo), and press into the one area no one has done: allow for video chatting to be recorded by the host as a legal record.
What do you think? If you’ve never met over the phone or video chatting for professional services like counseling and coaching, what do you think Skype can do for you that would persuade you to try it? And what do you think about those who already use it this way, and yet live in the same city of the professional they have hired? Can you think of some situations where the above scenario makes perfect sense?