1. How Are You Protecting Patient Information?
Keeping patient information confidential is a top priority in online therapy.
In addition to security initiatives seen below, we also take a common sense approach, which is to collect as little of your information as possible!
That means when you sign-up, we only require minimal information (name, email address, country, and time zone) for membership. Additional information (gender, age, telephone, language spoken, insurance, and reason for therapy) is requested later to complete your profile, but not required.
Furthermore, we have completely excluded any means of searching patients on our website.
Even member therapists have no search mechanism to find patients. Only when you add an online therapy provider to your network will the therapist be able to see your very limited amount of patient information.
Finally, we have placed all site operations behind a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), which is a security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a server (us) and a patient (you). That means any information you send through our system will be encrypted.
2. What about HIPAA Compliance & Security?
Therapists listed on the Virtual Therapist Network provide online therapy services from their own offices under their own state licenses and/or certificates. For that reason, the Virtual Therapist Network does not store any patient treatment data on site.
With no treatment data maintained by the Virtual Therapist Network, online disclosure concerns are avoided altogether.
Furthermore, our video, audio, chat system employs Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt both video and voice data. TLS enables us to comply with requirements of the HIPAA Security Rule for the transmission of patient health information over the Internet. The core protocols providing the Virtual Therapist Network video/audio system security are SRTP for media traffic encryption and DTLS-SRTP for key negotiation, both of which are defined by the IETF. The Virtual Therapist Network video/audio system endpoints also use the AES cipher with 128-bit keys to encrypt audio and video and HMAC-SHA1 to verify data integrity.
3. What Equipment Do I Need for an Online Session?
In order to see and talk to your therapist, you’ll need a:
Computer (Desktop, Laptop, or Tablet)
High-Speed Internet connection for high definition video & audio
WebCam with Built-in Microphone (Already included in most laptops / tablets)
Speaker (Already included in laptops, tablets, & most monitors)
If you have a newer laptop and/or tablet, it will most likely have a built-in camera, microphone, and speaker(s). If you have a desktop computer, you may need to purchase a separate USB webcam with built-in microphone if you don’t already have one. Most likely, your monitor will have built-in speakers.
4. Is My Browser Compatible?
Our video system is completely browser-based and currently supports the following Browsers for Windows, Mac, or Linux Users:
- Google Chrome (Recommended)
- Firefox (Recommended)
- Opera (Recommended)
- Internet Explorer 11 (Not Recommended)
- Google Chrome for Android
- Firefox for Android
Once connected to the video, you’ll be asked by your browser (see examples below) to allow it to use the webcam and microphone. You’ll be asked this every time you enter a new video session. Be sure to click the appropriate button to allow the video and microphone to be used by your browser.
Please be sure to test your webcam, prior to your first session, by clicking the MY APPOINTMENTS button after you have logged into your account. Because you’re not in an actual session with anyone, you won’t be able to test your webcam’s audio, but if the video is working the audio will most likly be working as well since the two are connected.
5. How Do I Book/Schedule an Online Therapy Session?
After registering as a patient (client), simply click the Make Appointment button next to the therapist’s photo. Then, select a day and time (24-hours or more in the future) directly from the therapist’s personal calendar. That’s it!
You can make up to four appointments at one time and when finished, both you and the therapist will receive an email notification with the dates and times scheduled.
Remember to pay attention to the therapist’s time-zone if different from your own.
Note: The 24-hour notice is a default scheduling function for all online therapists. If you need to schedule online therapy sessions with less than a 24-hour notice for your therapist, you’ll need to contact your therapist and request they change their online calendar to allow for a shorter notice.
6. How Do I Connect to My Online Therapy Session?
A few minutes before your scheduled session, login to your Virtual Therapist Network account. Once logged-in, you’ll see your ‘My Appointments’ button next to your photo. Click it and you’ll be taken to your appointments page.
There, you can click the Go to Video Session button next to your scheduled session and automatically be taken to your scheduled appointment. Once both parties have entered the room the online video therapy can start.
7. How Do I Operate the Online Session Video Controls?
By default, both participants will have their defaults settings set, so no action is required by either party. However, both parties do have the option to turn off/on the video and/or microphone during the online therapy session if a brief break should be necessary, for whatever reason, by either side.
Below is a screen capture of the video interface in its actual size. Once the video starts, additional icons will appear to allow the user to end the video session, switch to full-screen video, and/or print any text that may have been sent.
8. I’m in a Session, but Not Seeing Video or Hearing Audio?
If you’re in a video session and don’t see video or hear the other person, it’s most likely a camara setting that is not properly set.
Click the Chrome example image below and you’ll see to the right of the URL a red arrow pointing to a camera icon. On Firefox, the camara settings icon is located to the left of the URL.
In the Opera browser, you will be presented with the dialogue box each time you enter the video session and can properly select your options then.
Click the camera icon and you’ll be presented with a dialogue box for allowing VTN to use your camera and setting both your camera and microphone.
In most cases, there should only be one webcam (internal or external) attached to the computer, so the computer won’t have any trouble identifying it. Microphones, on the other hand, can be a little more confusing for computers if you have headphones plugged in.
In the case where you have headphones plugged in, the computer simply chooses the wrong audio device and needs you to properly identify which audio source (microphone) you want to use during the session. Or, you may have unplugged the headphones and the computer didn’t record the change in settings properly.
Regardless of the cause, selectinig the proper camera and/or microphone should fix the problem immediately. If not, leave the session and re-enter. Leaving the session will cause your browser to reinitialize your recently changed settings when you enter again.
9. Can I Refer My Current Therapist or Counselor?
If you would like to receive some or even all of your therapy online and would like to have your current therapist in our network, please consider contacting them personally and telling them about us.
If you prefer a more immediate way to refer us, click the button below and send them a short message. We’ll include a link back to our site.
10. How Many Online Therapy Sessions can I Book Monthly?
Unlike other video-based websites, we don’t charge members by video/audio bandwidth usage.
Instead, our monthly fee entitles online therapists, counselors, and their patients to an unlimited number of high-quality, video/audio sessions with no restrictions!
11. How Do I Pay for My Online Therapy & Counseling?
Online therapy payments are arranged between you and your therapist and typically made by PayPal or credit card.
The Virtual Therapist Network does not serve as a payment processor. Nor do we receive any fee or commission from the online therapist for their service(s).
For that reason, any questions relating to online therapy payments can be discussed directly with your online therapist.
12. Can I Use My Smartphone for Video Calls?
Yes. HIPAA-Secure video calls can be made using an Android 4.1 or greater compatible device.
In an effort to keep it simple, we designed our smartphone application to be used in conjunction with your Virtual Therapist Network account. That means, you can log into your account, select a previously scheduled appointment with your therapist/patient, and conduct a HIPAA-secure video/audio session.
However, because our smartphone application was intended to provide limited functionality (Video/Audio) and only meant as an optional fall-back in the event you cannot use your computer, it does not allow for appointment scheduling, textual chat, sharing files, or printing.
If those features are important to you during the call, please log in to the Virtual Therapist Network website instead and use our browser-based system.
Once the session is scheduled online, both parties have the option to use whatever device (desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone) they choose.
Note: Data rates can apply when using video/audio over your phone if you’re not on an unlimited data plan. Please check your plan and/or with your cell phone carrier.
Go to Google Play to download and install