If you are an existing client of Artisan, this is the place to get updates about how Artisan is approaching therapy sessions during this pandemic. If you are new to us, we are glad you’re here, we recommend you complete the contact form on this page, and a therapist will return your call within one business day. Your care is our craft, even now. Especially now. 

coronavirus therapy

June 26, 2020

During Phase 4 of the Restore Illinois plan, an Artisan therapist will be available to see new clients in-person with proper precautions, including the wearing of masks. In addition, all clients will continue to have the opportunity to participate in distance therapy through our HIPAA-compliant video platform. If you are an existing client and wish to be seen in-person, please reach out to your therapist to discuss your options with them.

May 29, 2020

As the Northeast region of Illinois enters into Phase 3 of its response to COVID-19, Artisan Clinical Associates is excited to be entering into a new phase of our response, as well. Specifically, beginning today, clients new to Artisan who schedule an intake with Dr. Ben Andrews will have the option of meeting with him in-person for the first session.

In our office, we will will be implementing a range of safety procedures recommended by the American Psychological Association, including the wearing of masks by both therapist and client, throughout the appointment. At the time of your appointment, you will sign an informed consent form, which commits both you and your therapist to following all recommended procedures.

In related news, Blue Cross and Blue Shield has extended its coverage of telehealth services until the end of the year. So, if you are scheduling a new appointment, completing the session by video will remain an option, if you and your therapist so choose. Furthermore, our existing clients can continue participating in distance therapy with the reassurance that their services will be covered by Blue Cross. Please note, however, that Blue Cross will discontinue its cost-sharing exemption on June 30, which means the payment of co-pays and co-insurance will resume on July 1.

All of our therapists are eager to get back into the office with you as quickly as is safely possible. When the Northeast region enters Phase 4 of reopening, we will be expanding our reopening as well, and we’ll be sure to keep you informed as that transition approaches!

April 8, 2020

It has been more than two weeks since Governor Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order and Artisan transitioned to distance therapy, and it’s time to update you about what’s been happening around our office. We hope this updates finds you well. If there is anything we can do to help you meet the challenges of this unprecedented time, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us by completing our contact form.

  • Our clients have been pleased by the results of distance therapy. Our HIPAA-compliant video platform makes it easy to connect for your session with a single click from any device with an internet connection and a camera. Distance therapy changes the experience of therapy a little bit, but many of those changes have been for the better. Our clients are telling us the sessions have been helpful, both in coping with this new crisis and in continuing to make progress on the problems for which they originally came to therapy.
  • Clients are beginning therapy by video, too. Between our secure online client portal, which makes it possible to complete all of your intake paperwork at your computer, and our video platform, there are actually fewer barriers than ever to beginning therapy. No more traffic to battle on the way to the office.
  • Insurance providers are paying for distance therapy sessions. For the first time ever, insurance carriers have approved billing for telehealth services, and they are reimbursing those services according to your normal benefits. If you are in-network with BlueCross BlueShield, we’ll take care of all the billing for you. If you have a different insurance, we’ll provide a simple form to submit for reimbursement, and we will guide you through the process.
  • We know how you feel. At Artisan, we never pretend we can help you because we’re somehow better than you, rather, we are able to help you because in many ways we are a lot like you. This virus has shaken us and stressed us and challenged us and changed us, too. Yesterday, in our staff meeting, we talked openly about how we’ve been tempted to cope with it in all of our least healthy ways, and how we are being intentional about walking through this in a way that forms us and strengthens us and expands us and changes us for the better. We’d love to talk with you about how you are going to do so, as well.

March 21, 2020

Continuing your care is our highest priority, along with doing so in the safest way possible!

In light of Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, and after careful deliberation amongst our team, Artisan will continue to care for all of our clients, but we will be adopting a “default to distance therapy” policy. In other words, until the governor’s order is lifted, distance therapy will be the norm at Artisan, and in-person sessions will be the exception. These exceptions will be made only when switching to distance therapy would force you to cancel your appointment or render it unhelpful. More specifically, if you are unable to come up with a creative way to get privacy outside of our offices, or if your therapist deems your care not a good fit for distance therapy, your therapist may meet with you in-person.

If you have an appointment scheduled, your therapist will be reaching out to you soon by phone to discuss these options and, if your next session will be from a distance, your therapist will then email you some simple instructions about how to connect on our HIPAA-compliant video platform at the time of your appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon, probably digitally!

 

March 20, 2020

At 3pm today, Governor Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order, including closure of non-essential businesses. Mental health treatment was included on the list of essential businesses. Therefore, Artisan remains open for business. Our therapists will work with you over the coming days to decide whether in-person visits or distance therapy is the best fit for your needs. For more information about distance therapy, please feel free to read below.

March 19, 2020

At 1pm today, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois officially announced acceptance of telehealth billing for all of the service codes we typically use at Artisan. In other words, when you meet with your Artisan therapist on our HIPAA-compliant video therapy platform, your services will be covered by BCBS as if you were meeting with your therapist in the office.

As of today, Artisan therapists are still meeting with our clients in-person. However, if you are interested in beginning distance therapy with your therapist, please let your therapist know and they would be happy to discuss it with you.

If you are interested, here are some helpful tips for beginning distance therapy with your Artisan therapist. We will be providing even more detailed information in a future update. However, if you have additional questions right now, please feel free to reach out to your therapist.

  • If you’ve ever done FaceTime or another kind of video call, you have a sense of how distance therapy will work.
  • Connecting on our HIPAA-compliant Doxy platform is even easier than getting on FaceTime, though. Prior to your session, your therapist will send you an email with a link to their “waiting room.” From any device with an internet connection, web browser, and web cam, you’ll simply click on the link at the time of your appointment and get started!
  • The biggest challenge with distance therapy, especially during a time when most of us are at home together, is creating a private space with healthy boundaries around it. We encourage you to work together with your housemates to establish these spaces and times for each of you.
  • Consider using headphones during your distance therapy session so that less of your conversation can be heard by those in the home who cross the boundaries around your space (e.g., a kid asking if they can have “just one more cookie,” or siblings demanding that you referee their fight for the remote).
  • Assess how comfortable you feel with your therapist seeing parts of your home in the background. If you’re okay with it, we’re okay with it, too! However, if you’d prefer more privacy, find a place to sit in your home with a relatively blank wall right behind you.
  • To their surprise, many clients find that distance therapy sessions are even more productive than in-person sessions. They are often imbued with a sense of purpose that can get lost amidst routine, in-person therapy meetings. In addition to your ongoing therapeutic focus, before your distance therapy sessions, we encourage you to read below the list of common issues that people are facing right now and feel free to discuss them with your therapist.

For many people, distance therapy can feel like a new frontier, and new frontiers are always challenging, as we learn to adapt to unfamiliar terrain. At Artisan, we are looking forward to leading you into this new frontier, at a time when distance therapy will not just ensure our psychological health, but our physical health, as well.

March 18, 2020

At Artisan, we’re quickly learning how to best care for you during this unprecedented time. For instance, as we have continued meeting with our clients throughout this first full week of social distancing, we are noticing the same five issues emerging amongst most of our clients.

Financial stress. The economy is faltering and businesses are closing for a while. From the privilege of worrying about the plummeting stock market, to the grim reality of paycheck-to-paycheck households who don’t know when they will receive their next paycheck, the financial uncertainties embedded in the pandemic are a stress upon everyone. Click here for an article with some helpful tips about how to cope with this kind of stress. Our therapists are here to help you with the third recommendation.

Relationship strain. Schools are closed. Businesses are on pause. Gatherings are cancelled. We’re all home together now for a little while. Some kids are learning how to be bored for the first time, and they aren’t enjoying it very much. Parents are having to exercise new parenting muscles. The fault lines in marriages may start to look like canyons. For those living alone, feelings of isolation and loneliness might grow quickly. At Artisan, we plan to help you emerge from this time with greater clarity about how you want to show up in your relationships and a sense of satisfaction about how you did so during the coronavirus pandemic of 2020.

Coping challenges. During times of high stress and uncertainty, it can be easy for depressed people to become more depressed and anxious people to become more anxious. Furthermore, some of our best coping skills—such as exercise, social connection, enjoyable activities, faith practices—may be more limited during the pandemic. If you entered the pandemic with existing psychological and emotional challenges, it is essential that you work with your therapist to devise a plan for adaptive and effective coping in these new circumstances. You can begin by developing an intentionally limited relationship with the news and social media. Click here for an article about how to do so.

Grief. Weddings are being cancelled. Much anticipated graduations may not happen. Beloved annual traditions like March Madness and spring vacations and Easter egg hunts are being stricken from the calendar. We are lovingly attached to many good things and, when those attachments are severed, the natural response is a sense of loss. We are all grieving the loss of something, and Artisan therapists are particularly skilled in grief facilitation. Between appointments with your therapist, learning more about the grieving process may be helpful, as well. You can click here for an article about the five stages of grief.

Trauma. The sudden disruption of social norms and routines can be exceptionally triggering for individuals with a history of trauma. The hypervigilance that lives on in the body after traumatic experiences may lie relatively dormant for years and then be reawakened by newly traumatizing events. A good friend of Artisan is a trauma expert in Boston and she has just written an article on this subject, as it relates to the pandemic. If you read it and it applies to you, please don’t hesitate to share with your therapist about the ways your trauma is being triggered.

We hope these categories and ideas will help you organize your approach to your ongoing sessions with your therapist. Speaking of help, it’s also becoming clear that when you participate in therapy during a time like this, you aren’t just helping yourself, you are helping everyone Artisan helps, by giving us a better understanding of the problems to be addressed right now. Thank you for being such an important part of the bigger story we’re all living through.

March 17, 2020

This afternoon, our team met together for ninety minutes to discuss our response to the pandemic, especially how to best care for our clients in the midst of increasingly restrictive social distancing recommendations. Here is a summary of our meeting:

  • We are very satisfied with our new procedures (described below) for keeping our offices highly sanitized. Artisan is the healthiest place you can be right now, outside of your own home.
  • We went through an orientation to the HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform we have adopted, called Doxy.
  • We reviewed some of the benefits of distance therapy, which cannot be had during in-person sessions.
  • We decided that Artisan will offer existing clients the option of in-person or distance therapy for the remainder of this week.
  • We agreed that clients who are new to Artisan can complete their first session via distance therapy, assuming they live close enough to Artisan to begin in-person meetings as soon as the pandemic is over.
  • We agreed to make a decision about what kinds of therapy will be offered the week of March 23 by Saturday, March 21, and your therapist will inform you of the plan.

March 16, 2020

Today, we began sharing this letter with all of our clients in the office, which includes a summary of our support for social distancing, our reason for maintaining face-to-face therapy sessions, our plan for keeping the offices highly sanitary, and an offering of distance therapy for specific circumstances.

Dear Artisan Clients,

Like so many of you, the Artisan team has been monitoring developments in the quickly evolving COVID-19 pandemic. We believe the use of social distancing to slow the spread of the virus—with the goal of mitigating the demand upon our healthcare infrastructure—is not a sign of panic but is rather a wise response to the emerging data about this particular virus. We encourage you to engage in social distancing to whatever extent you can.

Having said that, because of the nature of our practice and the services we provide—we are an intentionally small practice and almost all meetings are one-to-one or one-to-two—social distancing is already inherent in our business model. We see less traffic through our practice every week than a single Starbucks store has in its first hour of business every day. Therefore, we currently plan to continue with in-person sessions as usual. However, in order to ensure our offices are as conducive to your continued health as possible, we are temporarily implementing several new procedures.

  • Every therapy office is now equipped with disinfectant spray and paper towels. Our therapists will be wiping down all sitting surfaces between every appointment.
  • We will be thoroughly disinfecting all high traffic surfaces throughout the office every day.
  • We will be abstaining from hand shaking. Please feel free to get creative about your favorite form of socially-distanced greeting!
  • We will not be offering water or other drinks to our clients. We encourage you to bring your own refreshment to your session.
  • In order to slow the consumption of our paper products, we ask that you use our restrooms only if absolutely necessary.

Finally, during this time, there may still be reasons (e.g., flu-like symptoms, scheduling conflicts related to school closures) for you to participate in your session from a distance. In that event, please give your therapist as much notice as possible, and he or she will discuss your options with you. We look forward to going through this—and coming out the other side—with you.

Sincerely,

The Artisan Team

Dr. Kelly Flanagan
A Healthy Distance? Caring for your whole self while social distancing
That Feeling Is Called Grief