In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Peak Resilience transitioned all individual and group counselling sessions to Zoom. Studies have shown that therapy over the phone is as comparably effective as therapy in person (Castro et al., 2020; Murphy et al., 2009). We know there can be some uncertainty and hesitation around telehealth (us too!), so we’re sharing some of the steps our team is taking to ensure cyber security and client privacy on Zoom:
- Our clinic’s use of Zoom as a platform is HIPAA compliant. This means that our Zoom use follows the government of Canada’s Health Information Privacy guidelines to protect client information and privacy
- We assign a unique password and URL to each of our client sessions. We never share our Zoom PMIs (Personal Meeting IDs). Each session is scheduled individually
- ‘Join before the host’ is disabled in our settings. The fun can't start without us!
- The Zoom ‘waiting room’ is enabled in all meetings, so for group sessions, participants can only be admitted by counsellors. This keeps outsiders out!
- We don’t save participant chats -- meaning anything that’s shared in our meeting chat is erased once the meeting ends.
- We encourage participants in our online support groups to rename themselves in each meeting to maintain anonymity
- We invite people to note their pronouns beside their name if they feel comfortable doing so, increasing psychological safety
- To further promote safety, we have online group guidelines and discuss guidelines in each group session so everyone is on the same page
- Each client interested in support groups chat one-on-one with a counsellor, discussing guidelines and the group consent form, prior to joining the group
Like many businesses, telehealth is new to us! We’re doing our best to stay up to date with security improvements and adapting our practices to ensure Zoom cyber safety and security. If there are ways you think we can improve, we’d love to hear from you! Creating a safe counselling space (virtually and emotionally) remains a top priority.