Virtual Hypnotherapy – Getting Your Practice 100% Online

This month’s community brainstorm focused on getting our hypnotherapy practices 100% online. It was a call to contribute our insights and suggestions, to share our personal experience, or just to listen and learn and then apply in your own practice.  We intend to offer our colleagues support in keeping their practices going during this time of social isolation.

Many people can use our services right now!

Here are the suggestions shared on how to get your hypnotherapy practice up and to run virtually:

1.     Electronic Forms

Virtual Intake, Client Bill of Rights, and Disclaimers:

a.     Adobe Sign:  It’s easy to convert documents and get them signed.  You just need to create a pdf of the document you want to be signed; load the document onto Acrobat Sign Library; it will give you autosuggestions on what it sees needs signing, dating, etc. (t’s suggestions are fairly accurate); tweak any boxes and you are done.  Cost: $119.88/year.  Acrobat Sign complies with HIPAA* standards for data security.

b.     PDF Filler: Easy to use. Makes, edits, and creates forms for signing.  Cost: $96/year.  PDF Filler complies with HIPAA* standards for data security.

2.     Virtual Sessions

In all of these video options suggested in order to get your practice 100% online, your client is not required to pay anything to use these programs with you.

a.     Zoom.us: Free option allows for one-to-one sessions with no limit of time.  For group sessions and to record meetings on video or audio on the Zoom cloud (to share with your clients), choose Zoom Pro is $14.99/month. Cancel any time.

Communications are established using 256-bit TLS encryption, and all shared content is encrypted. The Zoom Rooms app is secured with App Lock Code.

Zoom has an encrypted option though it lags. So best to use the regular Zoom. Zoom is suitable for use in healthcare, provided a HIPAA*-covered entity enters into a business associate agreement with Zoom before using the platform.

b.     Skype: Free. All Skype-to-Skype voice, video, file transfers, and instant messages use Advanced Encryption Standards and strong 256-bit encryption. It has a history of data breaches, leaked conversations, and location revealing, however.

Video calls do tend to drop off more often than with FaceTime and Zoom.

c.      FaceTime: Free for iPhone users (both client and hypnotherapist must own an iPhone, iPad, or Mac). All communications through FaceTime are protected by end to end encryption. Access controls are in place, via Apple IDs, to ensure the service can only be used by authorized individuals. Apple also does not store any information sent via FaceTime. Facetime will not sign a business associate agreement required by HIPAA*-covered entities.*

d.     Google Meet: $6/month for the entire G-Suite package. Google offers a HIPAA* compliant option.

e.     Google Hangouts: Free. It is not encrypted end-to-end but only encrypted in transit.

f.      Webex: Free version includes do one-to-one meetings as well as groups without time limit (this just changed). The paid version includes recording and transcripts for $14.99/month. Webex can be configured to provide the desired level of security, including HIPAA* compliance.

Notes and additional suggestions when using video:

o   Talk to your client before doing hypnosis using video conferencing about what to do if the call drops off. Also, it would be a good idea to give them tools (such as floating above the scene or going to a safe place already established) in case they become uncomfortable.

o   Clients do not need to be looking straight at the screen at you when working. To minimize distraction, it’s best to have them looking at a blank wall or closing their eyes. Also, if you remove your video while they are in hypnosis, it can help avoid having the call freeze. Seeing them is advisable so that you can pace their breathing, watch their facial expressions, and detect how deep they might be.

o   Some practitioners practice using only the telephone line and find it more intimate.

o   Do not use music on a video call such as Skype, FaceTime or Zoom as the client will not hear the music clearly (it fades in and out). Add music to the recording afterward before sending to client.

o   Having your clients use earphones during their virtual session can help with privacy as an eavesdropper cannot hear the full conversation.  It also contributes to the intimacy of hearing you in their ears.

Note regarding HIPAA*: During the COVID-19 pandemic, HIPAA* has issued limited waivers to allow for healthcare providers to use video chat applications such as Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts Video, or Skype. All these applications meet their 128-bit level of encryption. These applications, however, were not designed for telehealth and will not sign a business associate agreement with any health provider.

It is important to note that we, as hypnotherapists, are not health care professionals and should not market ourselves as a HIPAA* compliant business. This claim might be seen as a means to deceive our client’s into believing we are health care providers.

HIPAA* can be used as a standard of practice only.  It is your responsibility to use encryption and privacy modes and limit the risk of others intercepting communication or stealing client files (to assure confidentiality to the best of ability just as you would with physical files in your office). Always remember to review the code of ethics of your hypnotherapy association.

3.     Electronic communication

Email:

a.     Paubox: Its $360 year. Eva M Clark recommends it because it doesn’t require her clients to sign in to some program just to get their emails. Paubox is HIPAA* compliant.

b.     Office 365 E3 plans: Office offers message encryption for all emails sent through Outlook and also ease of use. E3 plans are HIPAA* compliant.

c. Trustify: Added to your current email (Outlook or Gmail) to encrypt or require multifactor authentication (HIPPA) to open an email.  The client’s response is also sent back encrypted. You can attach files up to 1 GB (great for recordings). $6/month or $72/year. They give you 30 days of free access to the app to test it before needing to buy. Includes 20 GB of encrypted cloud storage.

d.      HubSpot: Offers encrypted email and is part of a marketing and CRM service (all in one). HubSpot does not mention HIPAA* but does mention security.

           Scheduling:

a.     Calendly: Free version sends your clients email reminders. Integrates with google calendar, office, and iCloud. In June, it will also sync with Zoom. Calendly encrypts all data at rest and in transit. While they take security measures, they advise not to use this platform if you collect Protected Health Information (PHI).

b.       Simply Book Me: Designed for service-based companies. Free up to 50 bookings a month. HIPAA* compliant (if you are a health care provider) is $299/year.

4.     Storing and Sharing Files Electronically

Sharing hypnosis recordings:

a.     Dropbox: There is a free version as well as a paid version. The paid version gives you more storage space.  All files are encrypted before being stored. According to Dropbox, they have the same standards of security as banks and the military.  Hypnosis recordings saved on Dropbox can be listened to from your client’s phone without needing to be online (great for airplanes and to listen in bed).

b.     Hightail Express: Great way to send large files without needing to access a website. The free version allows you to send up to 100MB files (plenty for audio recordings). The files expire in 7 days. Data is encrypted in motion and at rest. Hightail has many customers using our Enterprise and individual accounts to deliver Protected Health Information (PHI) securely so they can be HIPAA* compliant.

c.     Google Handouts (see information above regarding google)

Note:  The ACHE, among other associations, advises not to store client files on your personal computer or laptop if it is connected to the internet.  Instead save files on a secure cloud, external hard drive, or print and file.

5.     Advantages of going online

a.     Specialization/reach more people in an area you have a great interest in

b.     Your referral network is larger

c.      Clients can relax in their own environments.

d.     Pandemic proof.

 

You can download the entire list as a PDF here:

Brainstorm Session on getting your practice running VIRTUALLY

This meeting’s purpose was to share what we, as professional hypnotherapists in practice around the world, apply in our practice. Suggestions are not legal advice and every hypnotherapist should consult with their state’s laws regarding working as a hypnotherapist virtually.