What is Telepsychiatry? How a Virtual Doctor Visit Can Help You

Telepsychiatry visits are just like any other medical appointments- the only difference is they are conducted from the comfort of your own home or office using live video-conferencing. There are different names used for the same thing: virtual doctor visit, telehealth, telemedicine, telepsychiatry. They all mean the same thing: delivering health care services at a distance.



What is telepsychiatry?

Telepsychiatry visits are carried out using a HIPAA-compliant connection to keep your protected health information safe. The technology is similar to using Skype or Facetime, however, the telepsychiatry technology is encrypted. The technology has to meet certain medical standards to use.

 

What is HIPAA? Read here for a summary of the privacy laws. This link can also be used if you are having trouble falling asleep….

Want to prepare for your first visit with a psychiatrist?

Read my 16 questions to answer before your appointment so you are ready.

 

3 Benefits of a virtual doctor visit:What is telepsychiatry? It is a virtual doctor visit. The virtual visit is just like regular medical appointments. Learn 3 benefits of virtual doctor visits.

1. Telepsychiatry eliminates geographic barriers.

Many communities are underserved by psychiatrists and wait times can be prohibitive. Previously unavailable services can now be accessible throughout the country. Telepsychiatry allows us to easily connect with one another irrespective of location.

 

There is an important caveat though. Even though we have the capabilities to see anyone in the world using this technology, doctors can only treat people in the states they are licensed!

 

For example, I am licensed only in Connecticut. If you are in any other state I cannot treat you. There are provisions allowed for short-term treatments (ie if you are my patient and leave for vacation out-of-state I am able to continue my treatment of you during your vacation.)



The psychiatrist doesn’t have to reside in the state where they are licensed. A psychiatrist can be licensed in multiple states and treat people all over the country. It is a time consuming and expensive process to get and maintain different licenses hence why many doctors just stick to one.

2. A virtual visit saves time!

Telepsychiatry visits can be a welcome solution for challenges that make it hard to come to appointments. This includes time pressures at work, transportation issues, or childcare difficulties.

 

Reduce the need to travel to appointments and take time off work by scheduling a virtual appointment. No more sitting in traffic or wasting time in a waiting room. Reduce the stress that surrounds the logistics of scheduling and getting to an appointment.

3. Virtual doctor visits improve access to specialists.

There are not enough psychiatrists and certain areas have severe shortages. This especially rings true for subspecialists such as Geriatric, Child and Adolescent, and Addiction Psychiatrists.



There is a national opiate crisis yet there are many areas of the country where there are no licensed psychiatrists to treat patients needing help with opiate dependence. In order to prescribe buprenorphine (Suboxone), psychiatrists need extra training in order to get the special DEA license. Without that license, a doctor is unable to prescribe “medication-assisted treatment”. Telepsychiatry can expand access to licensed psychiatrists in areas of shortages.

Ask your doctor if they do virtual visitsWhat is telepsychiatry? It is a virtual doctor visit. The virtual visit is just like regular medical appointments. Learn 3 benefits of virtual doctor visits.

Not all doctors see patients via telemedicine but many are starting to. I use telepsychiatry in my practice and I love it. Sometimes my patients come to see me in the office and sometimes we schedule a follow-up virtual visit. If a patient is running late (or missing the appointment) we can quickly change to telepsychiatry. This allows care to continue without the need for rescheduling.



Have you had a virtual doctor visit? What was it like for you? I find that even patients that are hesitant, realize that it is actually quite comfortable and will request telepsychiatry follow-up once they try it.

How well do you know your medical history?

Do you know what the plan is to manage your medical diagnosis? What is your medication is for? What can you do to take charge of your health?

 

You need to be your #1 advocate and that requires you to have a good knowledge of your medical history. Download a form with the questions you need to know by entering your email here:

 

 

What is Self-Respect?

WHAT IS SELF-RESPECT? In my profession, I see lots of people who feel broken. Some have been struggling for years with depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc…. but others are broken because they are afraid to be themselves. I wish I had a magic wand or even a magic pill, anything to make it easier for people to push back the blinds, stop hiding, and live true to themselves. I see self-respect as just that. Not hiding. Imagine the freedom that can come with self-respect. Let me define self-respect better for you.



Aretha Franklin: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Although this post is written for all of you out there to encourage you to stop and reassess; it is dedicated to Aretha Franklin who just recently died. Her song, Respect, became a battle cry for African Americans and the woman’s rights movement, for everyone who felt marginalized and wanted to be respected. This song reminded people that respect was OK to ask for and helped several generations feel brave.

What is self-respect?What is self-respect? It's the ability to live true to yourself. Let me define self respect and why it is an essential ingredient for mental health.

Let me define self-respect by using some similar words that come to mind: acceptance, love, openness, confidence, resiliency, truth, wellness, values, dignity, bravery, choice.

 

The dictionary defines self-respect as:

1 : a proper respect for oneself as a human being. 2 : regard for one’s own standing or position.

What words would you add?

 

Self-respect is not entitlement, self-serving, selfishness, or narcissism.

How do you define self-respect?

Is it the same as self-confidence? Self-esteem? I don’t think so. I think the terms are related like siblings but they aren’t identical twins.

 

Respect means valuing your own needs. Valuing yourself. Valuing your inner being and everything that you encompass. This doesn’t mean that you value yourself to the exclusion of others, but at least equal to others.



Self-respect doesn’t even mean loving everything about yourself. We all have things we wish we could change and ways we wish we were different. Self-respect means that we continue to try to do better, love ourselves despite the things we wish were different, and live true to ourselves.

How to live trueWhat is self-respect? It's the ability to live true to yourself. Let me define self respect and why it is an essential ingredient for mental health.

Self-respect requires being in touch with one’s feelings constantly where I don’t always think self-confidence requires the same. In order for self-respect to remain intact, one needs to recognize how a situation makes you feel and respond accordingly. I think there is a certain level of self-confidence running in the background of people using self-respect, but I also think that self- respect requires acting even when not self-confident.

Self-respect needs to be considered the bottom line that doesn’t get crossed over.

How can a person reflect on how they feel in a situation?



Ask yourself:

 

  • Are you uncomfortable?
  • Does the situation make you feel negative or sad inside?
  • Do you feel pressured to be a certain way to live up to the expectations of others?
  • As you “go with the flow” do you feel worse inside?
  • Are you hiding because you are afraid of the reactions of others?
  • What would you tell a friend if they were in a similar situation?

 

The more you are able to reflect on these questions the better you will get at deciding how to respond so you can live true.

 

What are the consequences of ignoring your own needs?What is self-respect? It's the ability to live true to yourself. Let me define self respect and why it is an essential ingredient for mental health.

 

The answer to this lies in each individual’s situation. Sometimes people hide minor things about themselves… and some hide major things.

Semi-lame example of hiding minor things:

I may eat Cilantro if someone makes homemade salsa and brings it over. I am grateful they have taken the time to make that salsa but I HATE CILANTRO! However, I knowingly make the choice to eat it and take pleasure in appreciating the other person’s efforts. The only consequence is my taste buds that suffer eating that green leafy disgusting soap…. but I don’t suffer internally, because I know I have made a choice that won’t have lasting consequences.

Hiding major things?

There are a million ways people can (and do) hide who they are. One obvious example is the challenges people face coming out as homosexual. What if a person decides to pretend they are heterosexual so they don’t have to face telling their friends and family? What do you think the internal consequences of that will be? We have seen it over and over so I think we have a good idea of the answer.

 

Let me take a minute to say I am NOT judging people who make choices to hide. Sometimes the choices are about emotional survival. A person may need to first work on extricating themselves from a situation or finding coping strategies to better take care of themselves before they can live in a way that is consistent with who they are.



But I AM recognizing the pain that comes with hiding. I see it every day in my practice. Can a person feel totally satisfied living a life that isn’t their own? When people are hiding their true selves they are often depressed. Some are even suicidal. The path to fulfillment is paved with self-respect.

 

Feeling depressed? Read this post on 11 Effective Interventions for Depression.

Live trueWhat is self-respect? It's the ability to live true to yourself. Let me define self respect and why it is an essential ingredient for mental health.

I wish we could come up with a vaccine for self-respect. Something we could inoculate our kids with, allowing everyone to have a universal base to work from in life. Yes, I recognize this is wishful magical thinking but love and self-respect are the elixirs that make life tolerable… and even fun… and breed contentment and peaceful feelings. I know this inoculation takes the form of parenting in real life but all parents aren’t able to give this to their kids. And the kids that don’t get it can really struggle.

 

Does self-respect translate to less angst in this world? It certainly doesn’t mean hearts wouldn’t still get broken. But maybe they wouldn’t be crushed. If a person can walk away knowing that they have their own back then it makes it a lot easier to heal.



Please ask yourself these questions to assess your self-respect:

  • Who are you inside?
  • What do you stand for?
  • What matters to you?
  • Do you live in a way consistent with what matters to you and what you stand for?
  • Are you living true to yourself?
  • Would you be different?
  • Are you fearful of other’s reactions to who you truly are?
  • Does that keep you from being who you are?

 

Thanks Aretha!

 

Have Medical Questions to Ask Your Doctor? 4 Tips to Get Them Answered

How many of you have had the experience of going to the doctor, having tons of medical questions about what is going on with your body, and then leaving the doctor appointment without asking any of them? Or leaving feeling more confused than when you went in? I know I have!… and I’m a physician myself! As a physician, let me give you advice on what you can do to more effectively ask a medical question. When you have questions to ask your doctor your goal is to ask in a way that gets your medical questions answered.

 

Make sure to read the first post about why you NEED to ask your doctor questions! And then read these 4 tips to learn how!



Here are 4 tips to get your medical questions answered.

Being at a doctor appointment can sometimes be overwhelming or emotional. We can feel stressed or scared. Try not to let the emotions of the moment get in the way of your goals (sometimes easier said than done!). Increase your chances of getting your medical questions answered. The more prepared you are prior to the appointment the more likely the questions to ask your doctor will be answered.

 

Part of being healthy is understanding your personal medical history.

You need to be aware of the details so you can be your #1 advocate and make informed decisions.
Enter your email here to download a form that will keep track of all the important details you need to know (and questions you need to ask) regarding your medical history and medications.

Tip #1. Write your medical questions down (and then don’t forget them at home)!4 tips to get your medical questions answered if you have questions to ask your doctor. Effectively ask your medical question at your next doctor appointment!

BE ORGANIZED! Think about your questions before your doctor appointment and write them down. I’ve had the experience myself where I have questions but when I am in the office with the doctor I instantly forget what I wanted to ask. Or I only remember 1/2 of the questions. I remember the rest of them when I get back to my car. No matter how much you don’t think you will forget your questions, I still recommend writing them down.



Prioritize your medical questions in order of importance!

If you have several medical questions to ask prioritize them! This way if you are running out of time you can still ask the most important question and leave the rest for later. Otherwise, if you end up flustered you may not be able to effectively prioritize in that moment.

Take a picture of your medical question.

After you write down your question, take a picture of it so it is on your phone. You can also write your question in the “notes” section of your phone. You are less likely to walk out of the house without your phone than without your paper. This happens more than occasionally that patients try to be so organized but then leave the list at home on the table.

 

Tip #2. Let the doctor know at the start of the appointment that you have a couple of medical questions.4 tips to get your medical questions answered if you have questions to ask your doctor. Effectively ask your medical question at your next doctor appointment!

This is super helpful to us because then we can budget our time better and you will get more thorough answers. If a nurse or medical assistant checks you into your doctor’s appointment let them know you have questions. They will write on the intake sheet that you want to ask your doctor questions.



Believe me, I don’t want to end up talking about something else for the whole appointment only to find out with 1 minute left that my patient has 5 questions. I want to be able to answer all questions but now I am going to be rushed. I won’t be able to dedicate the time that I would like in order to give thorough explanations. Having the time to make sure you understand my reasoning is important to me!

Tip #3. Ask for a sooner follow-up doctor appointment

Please understand that we want to answer all your questions but we are also limited by our schedule. If you have a complicated health issue, or many different medical questions, we may only be able to tackle one part at each appointment.

 

Ask if it is possible to have a sooner follow-up doctor appointment. This way, you will have more time and each question can be answered thoroughly.

Tip #4. Ask if there are other reliable sources your doctor recommends to get your medical question answered.4 tips to get your medical questions answered if you have questions to ask your doctor. Effectively ask your medical question at your next doctor appointment!

Ask your physician if they recommend certain resources to read more about your particular issue. Your doctor may have handouts or book recommendations that will give you a greater understanding of what is going on with your health.

 

There are great resources online but you have to be careful with what source you read!! There are many awful sites full of misinformation and untruths. Read here for more information on how to know if a site is a trusted source of medical information.

If you are looking for self-help mental health resources here are my best BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS.



Be informed. Ask your doctor questions.

I hope you feel better equipped to go into your next doctor appointment and ask the medical questions you need in order to take charge of your health. Be a team member. Be your best advocate! Make sure you know everything you can about your health and treatment recommendations so you can help figure out what is in your best interest.

Have a mental health question for me?

As I said in the last post, I can’t answer a question specific to one person but I can answer questions generally. I may even write a blog about your question if it requires more detail. Chances are if one person has a question other people do too! Sign up below to email me your mental health question.

8 Questions You Need To Ask To Get The Best Psychiatrist

The fit between you and your psychiatrist is extremely important. You could see the best psychiatrist in the world, but if you aren’t comfortable sharing personal information with them then they will not be a good psychiatrist for you. Finding a psychiatrist can be a challenge and sometimes people don’t have a choice as to who they see. Often, finding a good psychiatrist has more to do with what you are personally looking for than the psychiatrist’s expertise. Answering these 8 questions will help you find a psychiatrist who will be a good match and evaluate if you have a good fit with your current psychiatrist.



Feeling comfortable and confident with your psychiatrist can help treatment progress at a faster rate. Being open allows the psychiatrist to know what is going on so they can address it.  If you are so uncomfortable with the doctor that you don’t share topics that make you feel vulnerable, or anything you think the psychiatrist “won’t like” to hear, then ask yourself if this treatment is going to be beneficial.

 

How to find a psychiatrist that is a good fit:The best psychiatrist will not be a good psychiatrist if you aren't comfortable sharing personal information with them. These 8 questions determine how to find a psychiatrist that is the best fit for you. Finding a psychiatrist can be a challenge. Finding a good psychiatrist for your needs is worth the effort.

Here are 8 questions to ask yourself in evaluating the working relationship you have with your psychiatrist. These questions can also define what you are looking for BEFORE you see a psychiatrist. Your answers will determine how to find the right psychiatrist and evaluate if the doctor you see is a good psychiatrist for you.

 

Some of these questions may be more important to you than others. Prioritize what is essential to you to decide if you are seeing the best psychiatrist to meet your needs.

8 Questions to help determine if you are seeing the best psychiatrist:

  1. Do you know what the goals of your treatment are? Do you agree on the treatment goals?
  2. Are options for treatment explained to you? Usually, there is more than one way to achieve a goal. There are often different pros and cons for each choice.
  3. Are non-medication options discussed? Medication is often only one part of the treatment needed to recover.
  4. Are you included in deciding your treatment? Do you feel like you are a member of the team working together to improve your health?

  5. Do you feel your concerns are heard?
  6. Are you able to ask questions?
  7. Are you comfortable with the style of your psychiatrist? We are not talking fashion here but the way your psychiatrist approaches treatment. See the below section for a further explanation of style.
  8. Can you reach your psychiatrist if you need to contact them before your next appointment? Do they call you back within a reasonable amount of time?

 

Finding a good psychiatrist: Different styles of treatmentThe best psychiatrist will not be a good psychiatrist if you aren't comfortable sharing personal information with them. These 8 questions determine how to find a psychiatrist that is the best fit for you. Finding a psychiatrist can be a challenge. Finding a good psychiatrist for your needs is worth the effort.

Different styles of treatment will work better for one person versus another. This is a very personal decision and doesn’t necessarily reflect the competence of the psychiatrist. Find someone who has a style you are comfortable with.

 

  • You may want someone who is very direct. But that may make another person feel uncomfortable and shut down.
  • Some people like a psychiatrist who is empathetic and warm whereas some prefer their psychiatrist to be a bit more removed.
  • Some psychiatrists are more active and directive. They will give guidance, advice, and feedback.
  • Others will be quiet and analytic, allowing you to set the pace.

 

There isn’t a right or wrong regarding what style makes you feel comfortable. What works for you? Answering these questions will assist in your process of finding a good psychiatrist that fits your needs.

 

Finding a psychiatrist: Treatment isn’t meant to always be comfortableThe best psychiatrist will not be a good psychiatrist if you aren't comfortable sharing personal information with them. These 8 questions determine how to find a psychiatrist that is the best fit for you. Finding a psychiatrist can be a challenge. Finding a good psychiatrist for your needs is worth the effort.

I am not suggesting that treatment needs to always be comfortable and that you should leave your doctor if it is uncomfortable. There is a difference between having a comfortable fit in a therapeutic relationship and the comfort of treatment.



Generally, people are coming to treatment to do hard work and have a goal in mind for how to feel better. Often times, in order to get closer to the ultimate goal, people need to get a safe distance out of their comfort zone. They need to challenge habits of behavior that are keeping them stuck. This is NOT going to be comfortable. However, at the same time that you are challenging yourself, feeling comfortable with your psychiatrist will allow you to feel more confident trying new things.

Finding the best psychiatrist for you:The best psychiatrist will not be a good psychiatrist if you aren't comfortable sharing personal information with them. These 8 questions determine how to find a psychiatrist that is the best fit for you. Finding a psychiatrist can be a challenge. Finding a good psychiatrist for your needs is worth the effort.

If you don’t feel you are clicking with someone spend some time thinking about why. What is it that is getting in the way? Ask yourself the 8 questions above to help you define what may be missing. If you can determine what you are looking you will have an easier time finding a good psychiatrist who fits with you.



If there is something that you realize is not present in your treatment then discuss this openly with your doctor. Generally, a psychiatrist will be happy to have you taking an active role in your treatment and will be responsive to discussing what you are looking for.

 

Finding a psychiatrist that is a good fit for you will be worth the effort it takes!

Looking for mental health resources? Visit the Mental Health Bookstore and Resource page for great recommendations.