Psychotherapy Matters Virtual Clinic (PMVC): A Psychotherapy Provider’s Perspective
I had some grave concerns about one of my clients. She was in her teens and was experiencing increasingly destructive thought patterns. Over recent months, she spiraled into unpredictable states of moodiness, apathy, depression and inability to focus. She blamed this on the medication that her family doctor had put her on 10 months earlier.
As a psychotherapist, I clearly needed help, not only to expand my own understanding of prescription drugs, but also to give my client some timely assistance. My membership with Psychotherapy Matters (PM) came to mind, and I emailed a question about medication (and withdrawals) to their website. I soon received a phone call and was informed that my client could be assessed by a Psychiatrist while at her scheduled session with me at my office. I was of course, speechless. To my surprise, the assessment would be done online, through a Web-conferencing platform that kept things confidential. I was intrigued, but also had some doubts. It really did seem “too good to be true”. I was guided along the steps of preparation. I downloaded the software, learned how to use it, and was given an email account that protected confidential documentation.
The initial setup and referral process took a bit of time and patience. Even so, on the day the session occurred, I could not have been a happier participant of this process. My young client was well prepared with intelligent questions; the Psychiatrist had a great view of the client’s body language, facial expressions and vocal tones, and I was able to be present and supportive to my client during the entire assessment.
The client’s parent (who was in the waiting room) was invited into the session when a plan for action was being developed. The parent was thrilled with the warmth of the Psychiatrist and the efficiency of the process. Options arose which neither the parent, the family doctor, nor I could have been privy to. Referrals were offered, agreements were made, and recommendations were clarified. The next morning, both the family doctor and I were faxed a copy of the client’s assessment with a summary of the recommendations and proposed plan.
This process allowed a team of professionals to assist a client who without this kind of multi-disciplinary collaboration, would easily have fallen through the cracks of our traditional mental health system.
Delivering a psychiatric assessment on a web-conference platform is a leading edge and innovative idea. I was lucky enough to be one of the first psychotherapists to access such a service. Technology in this situation brought ideas to all concerned quickly and efficiently.
I will admit that in the beginning, I gave the developer of this online assessment idea, a hard time. Now that I’ve experienced the process in it’s entirety, I encourage other psychotherapists to step up and try it out. Collaborating with other professionals who have different skill-sets and additional information is really where it’s at when it comes to the well-being of our clients.
This is the first in the series of blogs introducing you to an innovative approach to mental health care pioneered by Psychotherapy Matters: the PMVC or Psychotherapy Matters Virtual Clinic (click here for more information). We hope to report regularly on the experiences of clients and therapists and what we are learning about the use of technology to promote timely collaborative care.