Video Chat Sessions


Advances in technology have advanced to the point that PHA can now conduct sessions by means of video chat, as an alternative to missing the session altogether when it is not convenient or possible to come into our office.


Whether you’re traveling, feeling under the weather, or pressed for time and money, we understand that it’s not always easy to get to our office. Now you can get high-quality behavioral health care from the convenience of your home or office, thanks to our “Virtual Behavioral Health” (VBH) capabilities. 


Important: unfortunately, for reasons we cannot even begin to explain, it is not lawful to provide VBH services with our practice if you are not physically within the state of Pennsylvania during the time of your session.  By law, you must be in Pennsylvania at the time of your video chat session.


What are Virtual Behavioral Health Services?

Conducting therapy by means of videoconferencing is known as “virtual behavioral health” (VBH). More common videoconferencing programs such as Facebook or Skype or Facetime are not an option for VBH because of security purposes: they are not HIPAA-compliant.  After extensive research, our practice has decided to use a service through two companies: Doxy.me or a second company called WeCounsel. Both companies’ VBH products are fully HIPAA-compliant.  


Insurance Coverage for Virtual Behavioral Health Services

For Highmark members, our virtual behavioral health service is covered as an outpatient behavioral health visit, as long as your plan includes outpatient mental health benefits. Unfortunately, we are not able to offer VBH services for clients covered by Medicare or Capital Blue Cross.  Not our fault, but theirs! Sorry, but Medicare and Capital Blue Cross have tedious requirements for which it is not realistic to comply. Sorry!


If your plan covers outpatient mental health services, the member cost-sharing (deductibles, copays, co-insurance) for VBH services will be the same as if the service were a face-to-face visit. Please check with your mental health benefits carrier to see if such visits are covered. Be sure to refer to your plan’s Summary of Benefits or call the Member Service number on your member ID card to confirm coverage and cost-sharing details. 


NOTE: This service is not available to Medicare Advantage members or Medicare or Freedom Blue subscribers.


When are VBH sessions appropriate?

VBH is not an equal substitute for face-to-face sessions.  Still, VBH sessions do give you an option in case of bad weather, as well as other occasional circumstances where “making the drive” is problematic.


How would I know whether I should come in for a session or “do it from home”?

Simply coordinate this with your therapist ahead of time (note that not all of our clinicians offer VBH.  Ask your therapist to see if this is an option for you!).


On the day before our appointment, just send your therapist an email by 7:00 pm if you prefer to meet “over the internet” instead of in person. Alternately, you might get an email letting you know that the office is closed and your therapist is offering instead to do your session as a VBH session.


How do we get set up for teletherapy?

Please confirm, first of all, that you have a strong internet connection.  If you are able to watch online videos (such as YouTube) or do Skype or Facetime sessions with a friend, you should be ready to go. 


Second, simply download the consent form for VBH from our website. Read it, sign it, and bring it in for a session to let your therapist know you are interested in our VBH service.


At the time of our scheduled appointment, two things will happen. The first is that your therapist will simply call you by phone and walk you through the login process.  Second, you will receive an invitation to the session; just follow the steps below to get connected.


At the time of your session, your therapist will try to connect with you first by Doxy.me, and if that doesn’t give optimal reception, by WeCounsel.  Instructions for both are detailed below.


We are pleased to be able to offer this new service.  It allows us greater flexibility and less disruption to our work together. Please familiarize yourself with the instructions below (don’t be overwhelmed by the detailed instructions. 


Short version: just follow all prompts and respond in the affirmative!  Enjoy!).



Instructions for Doxy.me

Doxy.me is the preferred app for VBH sessions.  Generally, it is more straightforward to sign in, and easier to use.  

  • You will receive an email link from your therapist inviting you to join a virtual behavioral health session (the subject line will say doxy.me meeting invitation)
  • Click on the second link, that contains your therapist’s name
  • Allow the app to use your webcam:
  • In Chrome: Click “allow” 
  • In Firefox: click “share selected devices,” and then click “always”
  • Enter your first name
  • Click “check in”
  • You will see your picture in the corner of the screen
  • Wait for your therapist to start the session. 


Instructions for our WeCounsel

If we have difficulty connecting with doxy.me, our backup application is WeCounsel.  This program runs best on a desktop computer, in Mozilla Firefox.  Set this as your default browser before opening your email invitation.  Otherwise, you will be prompted to install a video plug-in (called Vidyo) before your first session.

  • You will receive an email invitation from Info@WeCounsel.com
  • Click on the green box, entitled “Join Session“
  • Choose “Check In,” then “Start Session.” 
  • You might be prompted at this time to install a video plug-in (called “Vidyo”). If so, simply download it, then double-click it to install.  If you are using Firefox, you should not need to complete this step.
  • A gray pop-up window will appear; click on “Share Selected Devices.”
  • Within a few moments, you should see a video of yourself; wait for your therapist to check in and you should be ready to go!


Special instructions for iPhone, iPad, and Android phones and tablets

Logging in to WeCounsel seems to work most smoothly doing it from a desktop of laptop computer, but it is also compatible with iOS and Android smarthphones and tablets.  The difference is simply that, prior to clicking the Join Session button in the email you need to first download the VidyoMobile app. For iPhone/iPad, click HERE; for Android, click HERE.


After installing the VidyoMobile app, go back to the invitation email and click the Join Session link. Simply follow the prompts until you get to the screen that has the Check In button. Click that button, then click Start Session. It will ask you if you want to start the session in VidyoMobile; click Open.  That’s it!  Just wait for your therapist to start the session.  Good to go!