If you need to connect with a therapist, teletherapy could be your lifeline

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In mid-March, Avenues of Counseling and Mediation launched teletherapy in preparation for the impending stay-at-home order.

By Patricia Nugent

At the precarious and self-isolating crossroads we find ourselves, one local group of mental health practitioners is opening the virtual door to counseling for existing and new patients.

In mid-March, Avenues of Counseling and Mediation launched teletherapy in preparation for the impending stay-at-home order. This HIPAA-compliant video conferencing system is accessible on any camera-enabled computer screen, phone or tablet.

For children, adolescents, seniors, couples and families, areas of expertise cover everything from anxiety and depression to substance abuse, PTSD, OCD, trauma, ADHD, eating disorders and relationship enhancement such as marital issues, parenting strategies and career counseling.

“If there’s a silver lining to quarantining, it’s that insurance companies have loosened their stance on recognizing teletherapy,” says Lisa M. Borchert, M.A. Ed., LPCC, who founded the private practice of 40 clinicians 20 years ago.

“Right now, with all this uncertainty and confusion, a lot of people may have increased levels of anxiety, panic, stress or depression. By getting people connected with counseling and making sure it’s easy to access, we can help flatten the curve in that it can help decrease people going to the emergency rooms for anxiety or panic-related symptoms, which can feel like a heart attack.”

Teletherapy sessions are covered by insurances and Employee Assistance Programs. Right now, patient payments (including copays, co-insurances and deductibles) have been waived by Aetna, Anthem and Beacon for many plans.

“People can read the biographies of our therapists on our website to see which one’s specialties align with their needs,” she says. “Via a phone call, someone from our intake team will ask a few questions to help with selecting a therapist and send a link to join the teleconferencing. It’s simple, and there is no software to download.”

Going forward, Lisa feels teletherapy is a turning point for a more convenient and efficient means of treating patients.

“We see it continuing as an option for care long after the Covid-19 pandemic is over,” she says. “Teletherapy effectively removes barriers some people might have to seeking help.”

Avenues of Counseling and Mediation has two locations, at 843 N. Cleveland-Massillon Road, Ghent Square, in Fairlawn, and 230 S. Court Street, in Medina. Follow the Facebook page for virtual offerings, resource links and support. The practice is accepting new patients. Call 330-723-7977 or visit AvenuesOfCounseling.com for more information or to make an appointment.