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 “telehealth” (aka, “virtual behavioral health," or VBH) capabilities. 


Important: unfortunately, for reasons we cannot even begin to explain, it is not lawful to provide telehealth 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 Telehealth Services?

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


Insurance Coverage for Telehealth Services

For Highmark members, our telehealth 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 telehealth services for clients covered by Medicare, Quest 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! 

UPDATE: in response to the coronavirus pandemic and national emergency, Medicare, Captial Blue Cross and Quest have temporarily relaxed their requirements for telehealth services. As a result, we are temporarily able to offer telehealth services if you have one of those carriers. HOWEVER (this is important), not all Capital Blue Cross plans offer telehealth as a covered benefit.  Only members are able to verify whether you have that benefit.  You’ll need to call the number on the back of your insurance card to see you have “telehealth as a covered benefit."

If your plan covers outpatient mental health services, the member cost-sharing (deductibles, copays, co-insurance) for telehealth 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 telehealth sessions appropriate?

While most of our clients would say that they “prefer” face-to-face sessions, most would describe their telehealth experience as “a close second.”  Often clients prefer the convenience of a telehealth session over a 30-minute drive to one of our offices. While many would not consider telehealth to be an equal substitute for face-to-face sessions, there is a good deal of research that actually finds outcomes to be greater for telehealth sessions than face-to-face sessions.  Also, telehealth sessions do give you a convenient option in case of inclement weather, as well as other occasional circumstances where “making the drive” is problematic. It also often provides more flexibility with work and school schedules.


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 telehealth session.


How do we get set up for telehealth?

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 send you an email with a link to Doxy.me.  Just click on the link to open your web browser (or copy the link and paste it in your browser), enter your first name, click enter and wait for your therapist to “come and get you.”  More detailed directions can be found at the bottom of this page.


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 our preferred app for telehealth 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 telehealth 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. 


For the best results…

  • Depending on your cellular network carrier, you may get the best results using your cellular network (Verizon, T-mobile, AT&T, etc.).
  • If you use your laptop or desktop, you’ll most likely be on your wireless network.  For best results, be in the same room as your wi-fi router, or at least very close to it.
  • Also, if you are using your wi-fi network when using Doxy.me, make sure that that your spouse or kids are not watching Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc., or playing video games or also doing a video chat at the same time.  Generally, it won’t work!  Your router has limited bandwidth and those services place huge demands on your system.
  • If you are having difficulty with your wireless network, try using your cell phone (remember to turn off the wi-fi on your phone, so your not still off the network).  If you’re having difficulty with your cellular network, try your wi-fi network.


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

Logging in to Doxy.me 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.  While there is a Doxy.me app available in the App Store and on Google Play, our experience is that you don’t need to install it. It actually works better in your browser.