You might have been thinking about therapy for a while, but maybe didn’t have the time, resources, or were simply not ready. When you finally felt certain that you should give therapy a try COVID-19 arrived and with it shelter in place orders and host of other restrictions that prevented you from scheduling a face to face appointment with the therapist you’ve been following on Instagram for months.
You thought this whole COVID-19 thing will blow over in a few weeks, I’ll just wait until they are back in the office. It’s been months now, and in some states shelter in place orders have been extended through summer. You begin to consider the possibility of giving online therapy a try. Maybe you read my previous blog post on telehealth and felt that it would be a good fit for you. However, if you are going to invest in online therapy, you want to make sure you are getting your money’s worth. So you still have some reservations.
Keep reading, this post was written with you in mind.
How to have the best online therapy experience?
Find a place where you’ll have privacy. Make sure that no one else is in the room or nearby where they might overhear. We want to ensure that the online therapy session is confidential and that you feel comfortable being open. You can use headphones, to ensure no one hears what your therapist is saying. This helps increase your confidentiality if you live with others. I highly recommend noise-canceling headphones or earpieces, but it is not required. Simple headphones will do the trick. Using a white-noise machine or an app can also help improve the privacy of the telehealth session and help you feel more at ease.
You don’t have to sit formally on your couch for therapy! You can have therapy almost anywhere as long as it’s private. You can have online therapy session sitting in your backyard under lush palm trees. You can have a session in your home office space. You can have a session in your actual office. You can have a session in your parked car. Whatever is accessible and most convenient for you works.
If you are having your online therapy sessions at home and you live with others, let them know that you will be busy for the next hour and cannot be interrupted. You don’t have to tell them that you are seeing your therapist, but do let them know you will not be available. You might want to make a “do not disturb” sign for your door, as a reminder. If you have small children, you might want to set a timer so that they can keep track of the hour.
Create a calm and soothing atmosphere that is comfortable for you. Because you have the freedom to conduct your telehealth sessions almost anywhere make sure that the space you use is conducive to doing emotional work. Add elements that help you feel cozy and at ease such as a cup of tea, blanket, lotion, candle, and essential oils. Be aware of the lighting too, it really sets the mood of a room.One of the magical aspects of online therapy, is that it allows the therapists to truly meet the client where they are at. From the intimacy of your home, you might feel more inclined to dig deep and get vulnerable in ways that might have never happened at the office. No matter how homey I try to make my office, it's still a professional space and not your own sanctuary. When I am in your home with you, virtually, we are together in a unique kind of way.
Tell Your Therapist
Let your therapist know your current location at the start of each online therapy session. Ask your therapist, what is the plan if you become disconnected during the session. This is important for safety reasons, your therapist needs to know where to send help or how to reconnect with you.
What Not To Do During An Online Therapy Session
Do not engage in unsafe behaviors or any behavior that will affect your ability to engage in your telehealth session. Do not drive during your telehealth session as you will not be able to focus on the road and on therapy simultaneously. Do not answer emails, text, or do work while also engaging in online therapy. Again, you can’t multitask therapy and other duties. Don’t drink alcoholic beverages or smoke weed right before or during an online therapy session. This will hinder your ability to be present and the therapist reserves the right to stop the session and charge you for their time.
Recording of sessions or taking screenshots is not typically permitted. If you want to record the session or take a specific screenshot, consult this with your therapist. Let them know, why doing this would be important for you. Your therapist has the right to say no.
Get The Most Out Of The Process Of Online Therapy
Have a notebook and a pen near you to take notes during sessions. Your notes can include new coping techniques or an insightful statement made by your therapist. You are welcomed to write down anything that can be helpful to you.
Find a way to track your progress, you can discuss this with your therapist. Maybe review your treatment plan or goals once every three weeks, or set weekly goals to be addressed at every session. Whatever you and your therapist believe fits your needs best. This will help you feel empowered through the process.
If your needs are not being met by your therapist or you think your goals for online therapy are misaligned, speak up about it. This is your hour and a service you are paying for. You have a right to provide your therapist with feedback about your experience. This helps determine the success you have in therapy. If your therapist is not open to hearing from you, this might be a sign that they are not the best therapist for you. No worries, you have more options.
Journal about challenges and impactful events that occur in between telehealth sessions and share them with your therapist. A lot can happen in a week and even more in two. To ensure you don’t forget important things, jot them down and have your journal with you when in session. You want to be intentional about how you use your hour with your therapist.
Ask for homework or reading material that can help reinforce what you are working on in sessions. Your therapist should have websites, worksheets, books, workbooks, articles, podcasts, and YouTube videos that they can recommend to enhance your progress. Don’t just ask for these, but actually follow through. I am a big proponent of doing work in between online therapy sessions. One hour a week is not enough to make radical changes in your life.
Genesis Games is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in FL and is currently licensed temporarily in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. Genesis provides video-conferencing telehealth services to individuals and couples struggling with anxiety, depression, life transitions, recovery from addiction, and relationship issues. Genesis is a Gottman Trained Couples Therapist and has a passion for helping people recover from heartbreak.
Genesis wholeheartedly believes that our lives are only as satisfying as our relationships. Her goal is to help you have healthier relationships with yourself and others.