COVID-19 Updates to IWS Services through Fall Semester 2020
Emergencies—If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency call 911 or 9-911 if calling from a campus phone. If you are experiencing an urgent psychological crisis call IWS at (413) 597-2353 and select option 2 to speak to the on-call clinician. You can also call Campus Safety and Security at (413) 597-4444 to be connected with crisis services.
What mental health services are available for students staying on campus and those studying remotely from other states and countries?
Mental health services are provided through Integrative Wellbeing Services (IWS) and through our partnership with Talkspace for enrolled Williams students.
ALL mental health services (both IWS and Talkspace) are being offered via distance methods (telehealth video and phone – IWS; live video and video, audio and text messaging – Talkspace.)
State laws require that for psychotherapy services clinicians are licensed in the state in which the client is residing. For the 2020-2021 academic year, all students returning to campus can access psychotherapy services through IWS or Talkspace, while students studying away from Williamstown (not returning to campus) who pursue psychotherapy will access Talkspace. IWS will not provide psychotherapy to students studying away from campus, Talkspace will.
Williams expanded the Talkspace offerings to include four 30-minute live video sessions with the student’s licensed therapist per month (weekly sessions) in addition to unlimited messaging services. ALL students, whether studying on campus or remotely, will have access to IWS practice and psychoeducational group offerings, workshops and supportive offerings (a schedule of these groups and offerings will be posted on the IWS website as the semester begins). Beginning August 1, 2020, students can register quickly and begin services immediately upon registering at www.talkspace/williamscollege and need only their Williams email to register.
Psychiatric services available are explained in detail below.
What services will IWS provide?
Via Telehealth (video and phone) IWS provides crisis response, individual and group psychotherapy (on-campus students only – Beginning August 1, 2020, students studying remotely can access Talkspace for psychotherapy), psychoeducational and practice groups (all students), psychiatric evaluation and treatment.
What is Telehealth? Simply put, telehealth is the remote delivery of services via videoconferencing or phone. This modality allows our IWS clinicians and Talkspace clinicians to continue providing therapeutic services to students while maintaining adherence to social distancing guidelines.
All IWS services throughout the 2020-2021 academic year will be provided via telehealth (video and phone) using HIPAA compatible secure video and audio platforms. Whether students are on campus or are studying remotely, all mental health services will be offered via distance, including individual and group offerings.
Who will be providing telepsychiatry services at IWS?
Dr. Aillon-Sohl is a Diplomat of the Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and certified in Adult Psychiatry. Dr. Aillon-Sohl has provided psychiatric services to Williams College students since 2014 and she will continue to provide this service via telemedicine until the current public health circumstances allow for a return to in-person assessments. State licensing laws prohibit Dr. Aillon-Sohl from providing services to students outside of Massachusetts, however, Dr. Aillon-Sohl and the IWS team can assist students in locating a psychiatrist in the student’s home state via student health insurance as needed.
What types of services are provided by IWS telepsychiatry?
Dr. Aillon-Sohl can provide adult psychiatric assessment and medication treatment management for most psychiatric conditions, including: Depression, Anxiety & Panic Disorders, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Social Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, and Psychotic Disorders. While Dr. Aillon-Sohl does provide some basic supportive therapy and can teach some basic Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) techniques during appointments, the primarily focus is on psychiatric medication management. During your course of treatment with Dr. Aillon-Sohl, she may recommend individual psychotherapy with your own dedicated therapist.
Are there services or treatments not provided by IWS telepsychiatry?
Dr. Aillon-Sohl will not be able to provide new treatment with a controlled substance via telepsychiatry given the constraints of federal law. Federal law (Ryan Haight Act) prohibits prescribing of any controlled medications (benzodiazepines, ADHD stimulants, and some sleep medications) over telemedicine without an in-person yearly assessment. If Dr. Aillon-Sohl had previously prescribed one of these medications to an established patient, and the current public health circumstances allow for an annual in-person assessment, then it may be possible for this treatment to continue.
If this is not possible, Dr. Aillon-Sohl will work with you to identify a new provider. Additionally, some conditions require a higher level of care than can be safely provided via telepsychiatry, such as: actively having thoughts or urges to self-harm or attempt suicide, actively having thoughts or urges to harm someone else, eating disorders (anorexia, binging/purging), alcohol or drug addiction/abuse and any other condition or set of symptoms deemed by Dr. Aillon-Sohl at any point to be severe enough to need a higher level of care.
How do I schedule an appointment if I’m studying on campus and want to work with an IWS therapist? What if I’m studying remotely?
For students on campus - to schedule an appointment with us email [email protected] subject line – “Appointment Request” to Kim Tremblay or Jessica Russell for scheduling.
For students studying remotely or wishing to schedule weekly sessions, beginning August 1, 2020, students can register quickly and begin services immediately upon registering at www.talkspace/williamscollege and need only their Williams email to register.
If you are unsure of what kind of support you need, whether on campus or off, please email [email protected] and request an appointment for a meeting with a therapist so we can help you assess your needs and select appropriate options.
How do I get matched with a therapist?
If you are studying on campus and have a preference about which IWS therapist you are placed IWS clinicians do our best to accommodate your requests. Our staff is a multidisciplinary, diverse group of clinicians with broad experiences and training treating a wide range of issues.
For students studying remotely or preferring weekly sessions, Talkspace offers diverse licensed therapists in every state, as well as over 30 languages. When students register for Talkspace they are asked to respond to several questions and matched with three therapists from whom to select.
If any specific identity, language or other need is present relative to matching with an appropriate therapist a Talkspace support representative can assist the student in matching with a therapist specific to those needs. Beginning August 1, 2020, students can register quickly and begin services immediately upon registering at www.talkspace/williamscollege and need only their Williams email to register.
How do I schedule self-schedule sessions? Can my therapist reserve these times for me?
To Self-Schedule please visit the patient portal at health.williams.edu. Once you log in, look for IWS Self Schedule sessions and you can select a time and clinician based on availability. Only students can reserve these appointments.
What counts as a “crisis?”
If you are concerned about your safety or are experiencing what feels like a psychological emergency or if you are unsure whether you are in crisis, we strongly encourage you to reach out.
Is anyone available after hours?
Yes. On-call crisis services are available to students 24/7 throughout the academic year and summer months by calling 413-597-2353 and selecting option 2 or calling campus safety at 4444 and requesting the therapist on call.
How do I make an appointment with Dr. Aillon-Sohl?
An initial appointment with Dr. Aillon-Sohl requires a referral from IWS. You may contact [email protected] for guidance
I’m concerned about my friend. How can I schedule an appointment for them?
You cannot schedule an appointment for your friend due to issues of privacy. If you are concerned about your friend, let them know about IWS services and how to reach us. However, if your friend is unable or unwilling to seek support and you are concerned for their safety, it would be appropriate for you to reach out to the Dean’s office.
I’ve always gotten weekly therapy at IWS-can I still?
At IWS we remain committed to providing timely access and equitable services for all students throughout the course of the academic year. To meet this commitment in the unique 2020-2021 academic year and to address continued increases in requests for services, IWS therapists will offer students studying on campus every-other week (EOW) individual video therapy sessions 45 minutes in length. On-campus students who prefer weekly psychotherapy can still access weekly 30 min live video sessions via Talkspace. Students studying remotely can access psychotherapy through Talkspace for 30 minute weekly or EOW live video sessions. This continues the model initiated during the previous academic year where students could access weekly 30 min sessions or EOW 45-minute sessions.
If some students are on campus, why is IWS doing everything remotely?
In compliance with the safety guidelines regarding sitting in close proximity in a closed space for extended periods of time established by the state of Massachusetts during the Covid-19 pandemic, IWS has shifted to a remote-only model to meet state requirements and protect the safety of all Williams students and staff.
Can I use my phone instead of video for my sessions?
Yes. Sessions can be conducted using video or phone. Having an open discussion about your preference with your therapist can provide them with important information about you and allow you to make an informed decision about which modality is best for you and your treatment.
I know I can access weekly 30-minute live video sessions via Talkspace, but are there any exceptions to the Every Other Week (EOW) 45 minute therapy sessions provided by IWS therapists?
Not at this time. Why Not? Demand for mental health services is at an all-time high on college campuses nationwide. In order to manage the volume of requests, while keeping our commitment to providing all students timely access and equitable services, we offer weekly 30 minute individual therapy sessions through Talkspace at this time, while IWS therapists will offer EOW 45 minute sessions. However, we encourage students working with an IWS therapist who need support between sessions to use our self-scheduling option through the health portal to sign up for 20-minute supportive care blocks as needed and available. Our therapists will also work with students who need greater frequency of care or a higher level of service to find an outside provider the student can access via their student health insurance if more intensive care is needed beyond or instead of the EOW 45 through IWS or weekly 30 through Talkspace sessions.
Is video, telephone or online-based therapy as helpful as in-person therapy?
There is a robust body of research supporting the effectiveness of telehealth (remote) therapy in providing mental health services. Studies show that differences between remote-based therapy and face-to-face therapy are not significant. As with in-person therapy, the quality of the relationship with your therapist and your comfort level are important factors that influence clinical outcomes. Although remote therapy is not for everyone, many people find it both accessible and beneficial, and some prefer it.
What if I don’t have a private space in which to do video therapy?
Trusting that you have a private space to talk is integral to the work of therapy. If you have concerns about your privacy, discuss this with your therapist in your initial meeting. This may require you to find a creative way to gain more privacy while honoring the agreements you and your therapist make regarding how and where your treatment will occur.
What options are available to me if I am having difficulty functioning as a student?
We recommend reaching out to the Dean’s office. Your Dean can begin to help you identify your needs and direct you to the appropriate resources.
What is telepsychiatry?
Telepsychiatry is the practice of psychiatry-specific telemedicine. The field of psychiatry is inherently well-suited to using telemedicine techniques as there is generally no physical exam component involved during appointments. These days, most telepsychiatry is done via real-time televideo-conferencing methods very similar to a Skype or FaceTime session. As long as you are at a location with reasonably fast internet access, you can see an online psychiatrist for your appointment. The American Telemedicine Association defines Telemedicine as “the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology” and can involve the use of internet, wireless, telephone, and satellite. To learn more about Telemedicine, please visit the American Telemedicine Association FAQ page.
Is telepsychiatry effective?
There is substantial evidence of the effectiveness of telepsychiatry and research has found satisfaction to be high among patients, psychiatrists, and other professionals. Telepsychiatry is equivalent to in-person care in diagnostic accuracy, treatment effectiveness, quality of care and patient satisfaction. Patient privacy and confidentiality are equivalent to in-person care.
My medication is not working, what should I do?
You should contact [email protected] to request an appointment with Dr. Aillon-Sohl.
I am concerned about a student’s safety. What should I do?
Appropriate action depends on the location of the student. On campus: If a student is in immediate danger, please call 911 and Campus Safety and Security (413-597-4444). For urgent needs that are not an emergency, please direct the student to call IWS (413-597-2353) for the counselor on call during the day. After hours, students can reach an on-call therapist, via the IWS phone number (Option 2) or by calling Campus Safety and Security (413-597-4444 and asking to speak to the counselor on call). The student will be assisted by a trained specialist in college student crisis counseling and assessment. Outside of Williamstown: With few exceptions, 911 calls cannot be transferred to other towns, cities or states. The best option to obtain emergency assistance in a different state, county or city is to dial the 10-digit phone number for law enforcement in the community where assistance is needed. This can be done proactively should you anticipate needing to have the number on hand. For urgent needs that are not an emergency, please direct the student to call IWS (413-597-2353) for the counselor on call during the day. After hours, students can reach an on-call provider via the IWS phone number (Option 2) or by calling Campus Safety and Security (413-597-4444 and asking to speak to the counselor on call). The student will be assisted by a trained specialist in college student crisis counseling and assessment. If a student is unwilling to seek help, notify the Dean’s Office with your concern. This will initiate a process leading to assistance and assessment. During business hours call 413-597-4171, and after hours call Campus Safety (413-597-4444) and ask to speak with the dean on call.
My student needs more than every other week therapy. Can I advocate for weekly sessions for this one student?
Because of the unique telehealth situation this year and based on anticipated demand, IWS staff offer students studying on campus psychotherapy on a 45 minute every-other-week (EOW) basis. If a student prefers weekly 30 minute sessions, or is studying off campus, Talkspace is available at no cost to all students and can meet this need for weekly sessions. Beginning August 1, 2020, students can register quickly and begin services immediately upon registering at www.talkspace/williamscollege and need only their Williams email to register. If a student requires more intensive support or treatment, IWS clinicians will assist the student in finding services that will meet their clinical needs regardless of their location.
What resources can I provide students who have specific concerns about things like food insecurity, financial stress, difficult family dynamics, difficulty learning in their remote environment, isolation, or suicidality, for example?
The safety of an individual should always take precedence. If imminent risk is a concern, contact emergency personnel (see FAQ on student safety above). The Dean’s Office is a vital source of support, information, and problem-solving for a wide variety of student needs (413-597-4171), including referrals to various resources on and around campus. If a student is studying remotely, local mental health agencies are often a good source of information for social supports. Because stress can affect students’ mental health and their ability to function, a referral to IWS or other sources of emotional support are often advisable. Students can access IWS by calling (413-597-2353) or emailing (IWS@williams.edu). Students can also access the IWS ChooseWell Resource project which offers many supportive resources for students.
I am concerned about a student not engaging in remote learning. How can I get the student help?
Students who are housed on campus have access to IWS and Talkspace psychotherapy services via tele-behavioral health and students learning remotely have access to Talkspace psychotherapy. ALL students, whether on campus or studying remotely have access to IWS crisis services by calling (413) 597-2353 and selecting option #2. Students can access services by calling (413-597-2353) or emailing ([email protected]) and requesting therapy. The student will receive an initial assessment and be paired with a therapist best suited to their clinical needs and identity preferences. If a student studying remotely is unsure what they need, they can schedule an initial assessment with an IWS clinician who will assist the student in accessing Talkspace if psychotherapy is indicated or connecting the students with available supportive IWS offerings. If you feel that the student is in urgent need of assistance, please notify that student that IWS has someone on call each day for more pressing needs. If the student is unwilling to initiate contact please call the Deans Office with your concerns.
Can I refer a student in crisis on the same day?
Students can be referred on a same day basis by having the student call IWS (413-597-2353) and asking for the counselor on call. Outside of business hours, students can reach our on-call therapist, via the IWS phone number (Option 2) or by calling Campus Safety and Security (413-597-4444 and asking to speak to the counselor on call).
I have a student who is requesting special considerations or modifications due to a mental health issue, how do I get help for the student?
For special considerations related to academics, the student should contact G.L. Wallace in the Office Accessible Education (413-597-4978 or [email protected]). For non-academic needs, the Dean’s Office (413-597-4171) can best advise a student on the best way to proceed. For most requests of this type, the student will need documentation from a mental health clinician, so a referral to IWS (413-597-2353 or ([email protected]) is usually needed if the student is not already working with a therapist or psychiatrist.
Why is supporting my child in connecting with IWS a good idea?
Mental health struggles can be an isolating and confusing experience for many students. Robust evidence indicates that the best clinical outcomes occur when family & friends support the pursuit of mental health services for their loved ones.
I’m concerned about my child. How do I schedule an appointment for them?
Students are encouraged to schedule appointments for themselves. If you are concerned about your student and they will not schedule an appointment, it would be appropriate for you to contact the Dean’s Office to express your concern.
Can you tell me if my student is working with a therapist?
No. Treatment confidentiality agreements safeguard the dissemination of an individual’s health information to anyone unless authorized by the student.
Does my child need to be in crisis to use IWS services?
No. In fact, we strongly encourage students to utilize our services before a mental health crisis occurs.
What extra resources is the College providing regarding COVID 19 specific concerns?
Williams College provides an up-to-date website detailing all topics specific to COVID 19.
What resources can help my student feel more connected to others if studying remotely?
Integrative Wellbeing Services has created Choose Well, a resource hub to assist students, staff and faculty in tending to their wellbeing during this global moment of uncertainty and unexpected changes.
Our family is having adjustment challenges with our student. Does IWS provide family therapy?
At this time we are unable to provide family therapy.