Clinical Services

Family Engagement in TMH

Engaging families in telemental health treatment can present unique challenges and opportunities.

Engaging CAC families in TMH services depends heavily on how the victim advocate talks about the service and encourages referrals.  If the advocate does not believe in the value of TMH, children and families will not be referred.

Family Engagement Resources

  • Task Sharing in a Children’s Advocacy Center: The Role of Victim Advocates in Meeting the Mental Health Needs of Children & FamiliesThis WRCAC issue brief examines task sharing in the CAC context and promotes the active collaboration between the CAC victim advocate and the child’s therapist as a task sharing team, especially in rural areas where the therapist may provide services remotely through telemental health.
  • Patient and Family Engagement Approaches for Digital Health Initiatives: Protocol for a Case Study (Shen et al., 2021) – Digital health initiatives such as patient portals, virtual care platforms, and smartphone-based apps are being implemented at a rapid pace in health care organizations worldwide. Recent studies have indicated that better outcomes of using these initiatives and technologies may be achieved when patients and their family members are engaged in all aspects of planning, implementation, use, and evaluation. The objective of this study is to document processes related to planning and implementing patient and family engagement (PFE) in digital health initiatives. This information will be used to develop tangible resources (eg, a field guide) that other organizations can use to implement PFE approaches for digital health initiatives in their organizations.

Below are some tips for therapists to effectively involve families in remote therapy sessions. By implementing these tips, therapists can enhance the overall effectiveness of telemental health treatment for children and adolescents.

  • Establish Rapport and Trust: Begin by building a strong therapeutic alliance with both the child and the family members. Establishing rapport and trust is essential for effective communication and collaboration in telemental health.
  • Provide Orientation and Education: Offer families a thorough orientation to the teletherapy process, including how sessions will be conducted, what technology will be used, and what to expect from the treatment process. Provide education about the benefits of telemental health and address any concerns or misconceptions they may have.
  • Involve Family Members from the Start: Engage family members in the treatment process from the outset. Encourage their active participation in assessment, goal-setting, and treatment planning to promote a sense of ownership and investment in the therapeutic process.
  • Use Interactive and Collaborative Techniques: Incorporate interactive and collaborative techniques into remote therapy sessions to engage family members effectively. This may include role-playing exercises, collaborative problem-solving, and interactive games or activities that promote communication and bonding.
  • Utilize Telecommunication Tools: Take advantage of telecommunication tools and features to facilitate family engagement. For example, screen-sharing capabilities can be used to review treatment materials or demonstrate therapeutic techniques. Virtual whiteboards or drawing tools can facilitate interactive activities.
  • Flexible Scheduling: Offer flexible scheduling options to accommodate the needs and preferences of family members. Consider scheduling sessions during times when all family members can participate comfortably and minimize disruptions.
  • Cultural Sensitivity and Inclusivity: Be mindful of cultural differences and family dynamics that may impact engagement in telemental health treatment. Adapt your approach to be culturally sensitive and inclusive, and incorporate cultural values and beliefs into the therapeutic process.
  • Provide Support and Resources: Offer ongoing support and resources to families to help them navigate the challenges of remote therapy. This may include providing psychoeducation materials, recommending relevant books or websites, or connecting families with community resources and support networks.
  • Encourage Open Communication: Foster an environment of open communication and collaboration between family members and the therapist. Encourage family members to express their thoughts, concerns, and questions openly, and validate their experiences and perspectives.
  • Monitor Progress and Adjust Treatment as Needed: Regularly assess family dynamics and treatment progress, and be prepared to adjust treatment strategies as needed. Solicit feedback from family members to ensure that the therapeutic interventions are meeting their needs and goals.

Page Last Updated: June 2024

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