A Guide for Young Children, Adolescents and Parents
The pandemic has brought about many uncertainties in our daily lives. With the unpredictability of the current situation, it is important to have a flexible mindset and adjust plans and schedules to ensure all precautionary measures are being taken to prevent the spread of viruses and to ensure peace of mind. During school closures, many schools have used e-learning or distance learning methods for students to keep up with the school curriculum.
Technological platforms have been the most effective tool for us to minimise social interactions whilst still being able to provide effective services to our patients. With the advancement of technology and the increasing number of psychologists using technological platforms in their practices, we believe it is feasible to switch from in-person therapy sessions to e-teletherapy sessions. Understandably, these changes may bring about doubts and fear about the quality of the services being delivered, but we are confident that quality will not be compromised, and we want to ensure we are maximising the resources we have available. This information sheet is designed to help parents, children, and teenagers prepare for teletherapy.
What is teletherapy?
E-therapy is defined as the use of telecommunication technologies to provide psychological services (telephone, email, videoconferencing, etc.). It is convenient, confidential, and easy to use. Growing research in teletherapy has shown that it can be just as effective as face-to-face, in person sessions. E-therapy brings the comfort and care of the clinician directly to you even when you’re physically far apart. You can easily and conveniently make appointments and talk to your clinician anywhere (during a break from work, while your children are asleep, etc.).
Things to expect at a teletherapy session:
Assess the appropriateness of teletherapy. Our therapists will discuss the process with parents and adolescents and consider their preferences and suitability for teletherapy. For example, assessing the remote environment in which the services will be provided and determining what impact there might be on the efficacy, privacy, and safety of the proposed intervention; assessing the parents’ availability and involvement in the intervention process; and assessing whether the technology and materials are available for each session.
Technological platforms and tools. The Zoom platform is used for teletherapy sessions. It is a remote conferencing service that combines video conferencing, online meetings, a chat function, and mobile collaboration. It can be accessed on various devices, including computers, tablets, and smartphones. It is also not necessary for users to download the software to access it. For more information, please visit: https://zoom.us/.
Scheduling. Like any session, an appointment is scheduled via telephone or email with our reception team or directly with the therapist. The clinician will email you a link and instructions to attend the session.
Parent training sessions. Just like your involvement with your child’s e-learning materials from school, it is extremely helpful for parents to work in collaboration with therapists to learn various therapeutic techniques. This is to equip parents with strategies to effectively support their children or adolescent at home.
Supervision. With younger children, having an adult present during the teletherapy sessions may be helpful. For teenagers, they may prefer privacy and you may need to think about how to maximise this in your home.
Preparation. The therapist will inform parents which materials are required for the session in advance (e.g. coloured pencils, worksheets).
Parents’ update/follow up. At the beginning or end of each session, if appropriate, the therapist will inform parents of the topics that will be or have been covered during the session, homework given for the week, and plans for the next session. Parents will also have the chance to speak with therapists about any concerns they may have or would like them to follow up on. This can be done at the time of the session or parents can arrange a separate call with the therapist.
Duration. Depending on the child’s age or needs, parents should expect that the duration of the teletherapy session may differ from in-person sessions. For example, it may be difficult for young children to focus on a computer screen for long periods of time. For this reason, session duration may be shortened, and the cost of the session will reflect this.
Environment. To maximise the time during the teletherapy session, it is important that the remote environment is appropriate for the session to be delivered. The following factors should be taken into consideration when preparing an appropriate environment:
- Distraction-free – a room where there is minimal distraction is ideal (without access to toys, and where it is not too noisy or busy). Close other apps or tabs open on the computer being used for the session, and put other devices on silent mode.
- Privacy – it is important to choose a space that allows for maximum privacy. Using headphones with a microphone can increase privacy, playing light music in the background, or using a white noise app can minimise sound travelling through your home.
Unwind. After each teletherapy session, it is recommended that your child take a mindful break and focus on doing things that will help them relax and unwind. During this time they should try to focus on the present moment, and if they feel their mind wandering, they should try to draw it back to the task at hand.
Payments. Prior to teletherapy, our receptionists will send you a confirmation email and you will also receive an email from our accounts officer regarding payment. If you are a new client, your bill will need to be settled prior to the teletherapy session with the clinician.
Things to prepare for teletherapy sessions:
- Good wi-fi connection
- Fully charged computers/laptops/tablets/smartphones with a camera and microphone
- Session materials required for each session
- A designated room free from distractions
We understand that teletherapy is a new and unfamiliar form of delivering therapeutic interventions, and that some clients or parents may have questions or doubts. We have found however, that the response from families who have been to our teletherapy sessions has been overwhelmingly positive. Our Child Development Team is ready to answer any questions that you may have. Please kindly contact email@example.com or call 2592 9000.