Informed Consent For Teletherapy
Due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, our professional body (The Irish Association of Speech and Language Therapists) is urging speech and language therapists to work through teletherapy where possible. This document contains important information focusing on doing speech and language therapy using the phone or the Internet. Please read this carefully, and get in touch if you have any questions. When you sign the Informed Consent Form that you can download, or that Carolyn sends to you by email, it will represent an agreement between you.
Benefits and Risks of Teletherapy
Teletherapy refers to providing speech and language therapy services remotely using telecommunications technologies, such as video conferencing or telephone. One of the benefits of teletherapy is that a parent, child and therapist can engage in services without being in the same physical location. This can be helpful in ensuring continuity of care in the event of the current covid-19 pandemic, or if the clients or therapist are otherwise unable to continue to meet in person. It is also more convenient and takes less time, and for some it may be more manageable. Teletherapy, however, requires technical competence on both parts to be helpful. Although there are benefits of teletherapy, there are some differences between in-person therapy and teletherapy, as well as some risks. For example:
Risks to confidentiality. Because teletherapy sessions take place outside of your home or the therapist’s private office, there is potential for other people to overhear or interrupt sessions if you are not in a private place during the session, or if you have not made arrangements for other children or pets to be minded. Carolyn will take reasonable steps to ensure your privacy. But it is important for you to make sure you find a private place for our session where you will not be interrupted, and organise minding for other children and keep pets away from the therapy area. It is also important for you to protect the privacy of sessions on your mobile phone or other device. You should participate in therapy only while in a room or area where other people are not present.
Issues related to technology. There are many ways that technology issues might impact teletherapy. For example, technology may stop working during a session, other people might be able to get access to your private conversation, or stored data could be accessed by unauthorized people or companies.
Efficacy. There is growing research shows that teletherapy can be as effective as in-person speech and language therapy. However, some therapists believe that something is lost by not being in the same room. For example, there is debate for example that some nonverbal information may be missed, or that some children may not engage readily with a screen. If this is the case, alternatives can be done, such as coaching parents on strategies via teletherapy and if appropriate a speech and language programme can be sent on to be worked on at home with teletherapy review appointments to check in on progress.
You and Carolyn will decide together which kind of teletherapy platform to use. You may need to have certain computer or systems to use teletherapy services. Carolyn uses the pro version of Zoom by default which does not require any specific action on your part. Carolyn will forward you a link to the session which you can click on to gain access to the session.
You are solely responsible for any cost to you to obtain any necessary equipment, accessories, or software to take part in teletherapy.
For communication between sessions, Carolyn may use telephone calls, email communication and text messaging with your permission and only for administrative purposes unless we have made another agreement. This means that email exchanges and text messages are usually limited to administrative matters. This includes things like setting and changing appointments, billing matters, and other related issues. You should be aware that Carolyn cannot guarantee the confidentiality of any information communicated by email or text. Therefore, Carolyn will not discuss any clinical information by text and prefer that you do not either, however if you prefer to forward information electronically please be aware of the possibility of 3rd parties gaining access to this information without our knowledge. In the event of forwarding you a written report with personal information by email to you, password protect will be used and the password will be communicated to you separately.
Also, Carolyn may not regularly check email or texts, so she may not respond immediately, but makes every effort to respond in a timely manner.
Treatment is most effective when therapy occurs at your regularly scheduled sessions. But if an urgent issue arises, you should feel free to attempt to reach me by phone. Carolyn will try to return your call within 24 hours except on weekends and holidays. If she will be unavailable for an extended time, she will provide you with the name of a colleague to contact in my absence if necessary.
Carolyn has a legal and ethical responsibility to make her best efforts to protect all communications that are a part of teletherapy. However, the nature of electronic communications technologies is such that she cannot guarantee that all communications will be kept confidential or that other people may not gain access to our communications. She will try to use updated encryption methods, firewalls, and back-up systems to help keep your information private, but there is a risk that electronic communications may be compromised, unsecured, or accessed by others. You should also take reasonable steps to ensure the security of your communications (for example, only using secure networks for teletherapy sessions and having passwords to protect the device you use for teletherapy).
The usual exceptions to confidentiality still apply, in accordance with the legal requirements of the Children First Act, 2015. Please let Carolyn know if you have any questions about exceptions to confidentiality.
Appropriateness of Teletherapy
Carolyn will let you know if she decides that teletherapy is no longer the most appropriate form of treatment for you and your child. Options for engaging in in-person therapy will be discussed or a referral may be suggested to another professional in your location who can provide appropriate services.
Emergencies and Technology
If the session is interrupted, disconnect from the session and Carolyn will wait two minutes and then re-contact you via the original teletherapy link you received by email again. If you do not receive a call back within two minutes and cannot log back in with the link, then call Carolyn on 0894034184.
The same fee rates will apply for teletherapy as apply for in-person speech and language therapy. It is your responsibility to check if your health insurance covers electronic speech and language therapy sessions and if they do not then you will be solely responsible for the entire fee of the session. Receipts may not always specify in-person vs teletherapy.
Carolyn will maintain a record of our session in the same way as records of in-person sessions in accordance with The Speech Grove policies and in line with GDPR.
This information is intended as a supplement to the general informed consent that is forwarded to all clients prior to engaging in therapy, and does not amend any of the terms of that agreement. You will be asked to sign The Speech Grove’s Informed Consent Form to indicate that you have read this information and that you consent to you and your child participating in teletherapy.