Delta Township practice shifts to offer therapy from home

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Teletherapy has become the new normal at Delta-Waverly Psychology and Counseling Associates due to safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Teletherapy at Delta-Waverly Psychology and Counseling Associates consists of video calls on a secured network and phone calls. Melinda Simon, who has a doctorate of psychology and is a co-owner of the Delta-Waverly practice, said teletherapy took some getting used to.

“There was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning just because for 30 years, I’ve been meeting with people face to face,” Simon said. “It seemed like within a couple of weeks, my clients and I were feeling quite comfortable, so that was a pleasant surprise.”

Simon said connecting with a client through teletherapy takes a little bit longer than in person if it is a new client they are meeting for the first time.

“The thing about meeting with a person in the first place is a bond and a rapport gets established a little more quickly,” Simon said. “You get a little deeper a little faster.”

Therapy sessions with children can be more difficult since a lot of the things done with children in sessions is hands-on work. Keeping a child’s attention is also challenging when you are not with them in person.

“When I have talked with other therapists in our office who specialize in seeing children, they have had to become very creative, especially the ones who see young kids,” Simon said. “A lot of what they do is very hands on, they play games, they do art projects and things like that to help kids get in touch with their feelings, and help them feel comfortable. They’ve had more challenges than we have in getting connected with the young kids virtually.”

Simon said she thinks once this pandemic is controlled and everything is back to normal, there will be a rise in people seeking referrals to a therapist to talk about what the world just went through. They have not seen a huge rise in referrals yet, but once people believe it is safe to go back out, she thinks people will want to talk about what has happened in the last eight months.

Brian Wissink, co-owner of the Delta-Waverly practice, a licensed professional counselor and Simon’s spouse, said he will not be surprised if teletherapy continues after the pandemic is over.

“I think there are going to be a fair number of people who will forego the hassles of travel to the office and are comfortable with the way we’re doing it,” Wissink said. “I think we’re both a little surprised it appears to be just about as effective as it is in person.”

Wissink is grateful for teletherapy since it allows the practice to continue treating people in the community, and it allows the practice to remain open as a business. Wissink also believes adults are more burdened with the pandemic.

“The age demographics are interesting,” Wissink said. “Younger people do not seem to be having an emotional or mental strain from the pandemic that older adults are. We believe that everyone has been carrying around a bit more stress.”