Counseling over the internet

Newsletter - May 15 - Dr.ChloeAt FirstMed we invest continuing education for our team. We attend a variety of medical and administration conferences so that we can learn the best practices for our clinics. Last Fall our managing director attended one of these conferences in New York and had the pleasure of meeting
Dr. Chloe Carmichael, a prominent psychologist, who has some very innovative methods for serving patients online. We took time to ask her about her practice, especially those services that she can offer to expats and travelers who can’t easily meet her in person.

How did you get the idea to serve patients online?

I had to respond to demand. I literally get calls for video therapy from all over the globe. I got the idea to make the anxiety tools I teach in therapy available as an on-demand webinar because of demand as well- I tend to see three main types of anxiety over and over: obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and panic disorder. The good news is that these all respond VERY well to CBT (Cognitive behavioral therapy). I realized the CBT tools could be packaged and taught in my own words by simply making an interactive webinar where clients could click the tools they needed and review them as much as they wanted. The on-demand format also solved problems of distance and budget.

Do you feel there is the same kind of connection between the therapist and patient in an online session as there would be face to face?

There are similarities, and differences. One thing I really miss is being able to see small shifts in body language, or tiny little sighs. On the other hand, getting to see a client in their own space also gives me context that I wouldn’t have if they came to my office for a session.

What are the key difference patients may experience with in an online session vs a traditional setting?

One major difference is that the patient will need to think in advance about creating a quiet, comfortable setting. A professional psychologist ensures their setting is a good environment for therapy, and video therapy clients should do the same. Online therapy clients will enjoy more freedom to schedule sessions since they don’t have to worry about commuting to the therapist’s location, but they also need to make sure they are fully present for the session. Being in my office removes all distractions for clients, and when they’re doing an online session they learn to manage those distractions themselves- sometimes even carving out the private time and space for online therapy can be therapeutic in itself!

Do you have any international patients? If so, what is the farthest country?

My online client base includes Korea, Japan, France, England, and Russia.

One of your areas of expertise is therapy for anxiety. Can you please describe some of the treatment options? 

There are a host of treatment options for anxiety. Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is widely considered an excellent first-line treatment. Many people prefer it to medication because there are no side effects, and it’s a treatment that includes a planned conclusion rather than lifelong medication. However, some clients find it best to combine medication with CBT. The right program will differ for everyone.

In addition to your clinical work you have been a certified yoga for almost 15 years and also have significant training in Buddhism and meditation. Do you incorporate any of this experience in your work as psychologist?

Absolutely! Many CBT techniques are literally based on Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation techniques; even the University of Massachusetts Medical School now has a center dedicated to studying the stress-reducing effects of mindfulness meditation. It’s almost impossible to overstate how much overlap exists between A) teaching meditations, which I did as a yoga teacher, and B) teaching techniques to observe and change thought patterns, which I do as a clinical psychologist.

For more information about Dr. Chloe and her practice please visit her website. If you’re interested in Dr. Chloe’s services, you can use this offer code: ‘FIRSTMED’ to receive a  10% discount. www.drchloe.com

This article appeared in our May, 2015 Newsletter. For further information about the online publication and to sign up, please click here.