Valerie Kuykendall-Rogers, MA, LPC-S, CEO of Apex LLC for writing an exhaustive review of online counseling platforms in a recent blog post.
Valerie advises clinicians to evaluate 5 key factors when making a decision about which to use:
1. Security/HIPAA Compliance
5. Payment Options
Here is my edited version of her recommendations:
Breakthrough has an app for clinicians to use to schedule, check messages, and for clients to search for counselors. They will verify insurance benefits when clients sign up and verify payment. They will even file the insurance for you and pay you the contracted rate. Breakthrough allows you to send secure messages to clients, upload documents to them, and notify you when a client has completed pre-session assessments and is online and ready for the counseling session to begin. Breakthrough also has pre-assessments that can be given to clients prior to each session, specific paperwork/informed consents specific to online counseling, and a form to use to document your session. They charge $6.00 per usage and are HIPAA compliant. They provide great IT support.
Clocktree is a HIPAA compliant online platform that does not require you to download any additional software. They have an app that you can download on any type of mobile device to conduct online services using phone, tablet, or computer. They provide scheduling and send you reminders via email and text the day before, as well as intermittent reminders the day of a session via text and email. You are able to send and receive secure messages. You can also schedule up to 10 hours of video per month, free of charge. There is no membership cost for clients to use Clocktree.
BetterHelp - is an online, HIPAA compliant platform that doesn't require any additional downloads. They provide a free trial service and a mobile app. They provide secure and encrypted messaging between you and the client. However they do not accept insurance. Clients are charged a membership fee. They have a scheduling platform, however, it is unclear if they give you the capability to document or write notes following sessions.
I-Couch is an online therapy platform much like Clocktree, except they charge a monthly fee of $40. However, this money go far. It provides you with features such as a website, invoicing/credit card payments, a forms library, and the ability to conduct groups. It also provides other common features such as secure messaging, online client portal with scheduling, and secure, HIPAA compliant video. This platform doesn't require any additional downloads and can be used on just about any browser, however, they do not have a mobile app. They provide a 14 day free trial.
Thera-Link - is a great HIPAA compliant, secure, online counseling platform, however, it is costly. $30 a month allows you to conduct a max of 5 session. Unlimited starts out at $45/month. It is unique in providing a virtual waiting room! You create an avatar, select music, and voila, instant online waiting room! It's a robust online platform service that provides options for group counseling, scheduling, email notifications, secure messaging, ability to use on phone/tablet as well as computer, a mobile app, and the ability to accept payments of your choosing.
As always, I urge anyone interested in providing video counseling to become a Certified Cyber Therapist through the Online Therapy Institute.