How Does Online Therapy Work?

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What is online therapy?  

It’s the use of electronic transmission to provide interactive real-time mental health services remotely. We’re using video and audio to closely simulate in-person dynamics.  

We use telehealth’s Secure Video, software with encryption via a HIPAA-compliant platform (Zoom) to maximize your confidentiality.  It offers video options for both individuals and groups.  

What kinds of services can be provided to me via telehealth? 

Through telehealth online therapy you can work with an experienced therapist to engage in counseling, psychotherapy, consultation, assessment and diagnosis just like with in-person therapy. 

What are the benefits of online therapy?

Research shows that it can be a very effective alternative to in-person therapy. 

Online therapy:

  • can flexibly provide continuity of care when in-person treatment sessions cannot be conducted in the office
  • allows for both verbal and non-verbal communication, similar to in-person therapy
  • offers connection to others and mental health support during this potentially distressing and isolating period at home 

We really need some support now.  Can someone in my family begin now as a new client using online therapy?

Yes, we are accepting new clients now, and we’re dedicated to providing support to the community during this health crisis.  We have experienced clinicians available to offer services for clients in all stages of life – girls, middle schoolers, teens, young adults, and adults.   We offer therapy for individuals, groups, couples and families.

Please contact our Intake Coordinator, Paige Howard, AMFT, APCC, to discuss your questions and goals.  She can be reached at PHoward@IFGD.care or 626-585-8075 ext. 108. 

Are there any downsides ?

No electronic transmission system is considered completely safe from intrusion, so your psychotherapist cannot fully guarantee the security of telehealth sessions.  That said, we use software with encryption via a HIPAA compliant platform to maximize your confidentiality.  And some people say that telehealth services do not have the same level of comfort and may not seem as complete when talking about personal and private matters. We encourage clients to discuss these experiences with their therapist. There are adjustments therapists can make with the client to increase the comfort level for the client. The client and therapist can discuss and experiment with these. Clients will review and sign a telehealth agreement with details about the advantages and potentials downsides. 

How do I join a session?

It’s a quick, easy process. As mentioned, we use the Secure Video platform for our services.  Clients can connect with their therapists using smartphones, laptops or desktop computers.  Laptops or desktops are recommended because of the larger screen sizes.

  1. Once your therapist schedules your session, you’ll receive an invitation to download the Zoom app and to RSVP to your session.
  2. Download the Zoom app.
  3. Confirm your appointment by responding to the email you will receive.
  4. Find a private and comfortable place with a good internet connection for your session. 
  5. Go to the “waiting room” when you are ready to start your appointment.
  6.  Join the session!

Do I need to clean up a bedroom for my daughter’s therapy session?

No!  Set up your device in any private space in your home.  Only the area right behind her will be visible unless she chooses to show the therapist more of her space.  

If you’d prefer, you can select a virtual background, which replaces the space behind the client with the image of a comfortable “therapy space.”  We have three suggested options.  

Here’s one:

That’s right; that’s a virtual background!  Pretty cool, isn’t it?

What about confidentiality ?

Find a private space in your home, and you’re ready to go. The client and therapist agree to keep the same privacy safeguards as during an in-person session. The environment should be free from intrusions or disruptions. We use HIPAA-compliant telehealth software with encryption to maximize your confidentiality. 

The client is responsible for participating in the session in an enclosed private room, with reasonable sound barriers, and with no one else present or observing. The client and psychotherapist agree to not record the telehealth sessions without prior written consent of both parties. 

Do you have any new groups or offerings to provide additional support during this stay-at-home period?

Yes, in an effort to support mental health and contribute to the emergency response during this crisis, we’re expanding our offerings. Many of our therapists, who may typically work primarily with children or teens, also have extensive experience working with adults and clients in all stages of life. Contact us to learn about new online therapy groups and services based on the current needs of our community and in service to all ages and all genders. 

Please contact our Intake Coordinator, Paige Howard, AMFT, APCC, to learn more or to express interest in a particular group.  She can be reached at PHoward@IFGD.care or 626-585-8075 ext. 108.  

TIPS FROM OUR THERAPISTS

Give it a try! Telehealth may be a new experience for you or your child, and new experiences may be accompanied with some reservations. However, most families have found once they give it a try, online therapy is a wonderful experience. Also, it can be a great way to practice flexibility and the importance of stepping outside your comfort zone.
It can be helpful to connect with your child’s therapist to brainstorm helpful toys or materials to have on hand.  If a child is used to coloring or playing with Playdoh during in-person sessions, having similar materials available can ease the transition to online therapy.

Angela Youngs, PSY.D.

Postdoctoral Fellow

Supervised by Vicki Chiang, Psy.D. – PSY 21136

Help your child become comfortable with talking to someone on a screen by doing a test session before the first therapy appointment. 


Lauren Eccker, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker – LCSW 80637 

With my clients who are younger children, we’ve really enjoyed bonding and getting comfortable in this new video format through fun, interactive games.


Sushi Frausto, M.A.

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist LMFT 101031

Set up your child in advance so she’s comfortable and has a stable screen in a private area.  The larger screen size of a laptop or desktop computer is ideal to keep kids and teens engaged.


Vicki Chiang, Psy.D.

Licensed Psychologist – PSY 21136

Although initially it might feel a little “weird” to meet online instead of in-person, it allows us to practice our flexibility and creativity in both the therapeutic relationship and in the therapeutic “space”!
Also, I invite my clients to share fun ideas about how they’re navigating social distancing, and we develop new rituals and games that bolster the work we’ve already been doing in our in-person sessions.  I think normalizing that it’s new and emphasizing that we can “keep it going” therapeutically is really helpful.

Paige Howard, M.S., Intake Coordinator

Associate Marriage and Family Therapist – AMFT 115379, Associate Professional Clinical Counselor – APCC 6798, Supervised by Melissa J. Johnson – PSY13102

This is a time when teens can share their technology with us more than ever. The “shared screen” feature allows teens to bring content to a session to discuss – such as a favorite YouTuber or music video.  We can pull up that content and view it together.  It’s led to some interesting discussions with my clients! 
Also, I’ve asked my teen therapy groups to create playlists to help them connect and find joy together during this distressing time.  Some of them were creative enough to think of songs related to the virus such as, Don’t Stand So Close to Me, by the Police. 

Brittany Fella

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist – LMFT 92791

Some of our weekly therapy groups choose the same virtual background so we all feel like we’re in a shared space! 


Tatiana Pinkley, M.A.

Practicum TraineeSupervised by Grace Goodman, Psy.D. – PSY 28905