How to Get the Most Out of Online Therapy

 
 
 
 
 

When I first start working with a client online, I like to let them know all the ways we can make their experience just as impactful as therapy in an office together. 

It takes some conscious effort, but tiny adjustments to our physical spaces, technology, and schedules all add up to create a comfy, private, and connected experience wherein you can feel safe to get the support you need.

 

 

 

Pillows & Privacy: We Set Up the Space.

First, we set up the spaces in our homes to feel cozier, private, and dedicated to therapy.  I ask clients to choose a private space in their home where they can reliably meet with me at our designated time, and then I encourage them to make that space special whenever we meet. 

 

Some things that increase the physical comfort of our designated therapy spaces:

 

  • Soft and cuddly things (e.g., blankets, pillows, and even pets who don’t distract us)

  • Other comforting tactile objects (e.g., fidget toys and stress balls)

  • A soothing or refreshing beverage to drink (e.g., tea, your favorite flavored seltzer, etc.)

  • Relaxing lights, candles, or essential oils (to both calm our nerves and signify that therapy has started)

Some things that increase our privacy: 

  • Earbuds or headphones for listening to the other person. 

  • Fans or white noise machines placed just outside of our rooms.

 

Connected to More Than Just the Internet: We Set Up the Tech.

Next, we set up the technology to reduce distractions and strain and increase our focus and sense of connection to each other.

 

  • Before (or at the beginning of) a session, it’s a good idea to ensure our Internet connections are stable and we know how to use the main features of our videoconferencing platform.

  • During sessions, it’s best to have our devices positioned so that we are looking at each other at or around eye-level.  This helps us focus, feel more connected to one another, and experience less strain on our eyes, necks, and backs.

    • While there are many cool laptop risers you can buy, there are also many other creative, sturdy ways to raise the height of a laptop – I speak from experience!

    • On a related note, it’s helpful to remember that we don’t have to maintain eye contact throughout the session (although it can sometimes feel that way in video meetings). Just like we would in the office, we can take time to gaze at our surroundings and reflect during an online therapy session.
       

  • Another note on where we look: Unless it’s helpful for a specific therapy technique, we don’t need to focus on our own video.

    • I recommend only checking your “Self View” to ensure the other person can see you clearly, and then shifting your focus back to them.

    • If you have options to minimize or hide what you can see of yourself, it is worth experimenting with those.
       

  • To further reduce distractions, it’s a good idea to turn off notifications on our device(s) but keep a phone nearby.

    • We can set our phones (and some computers!) to “Do Not Disturb” mode.  I cannot tell you how many people’s days I’ve made when I’ve pointed out this feature on the MacBook (it’s in the pop-out menu by the clock, in the “Notifications” tab…You’re welcome!).

    • As for cell phones, I encourage clients to keep them nearby and charged, in case the Internet becomes faulty and we need to get on the phone to keep on talking. 

 

Be A Little Selfish: We Set Up Our Schedules.

Perhaps more important than the cozy, private, focused environment we’ve created is the way we as people enter and leave the virtual therapy room.  Traditionally, the transitional time between a therapy session and life outside of it has been experienced as a bit of a ritual, through a commute and a waiting room.  That transitional time is precious and best spent being gentle to ourselves.

  • Before and after a session, spending a few minutes doing any of the following can allow us to fully absorb the benefits of therapy:

    • sitting in our chair and sipping our favorite soothing beverage

    • writing in a journal

    • repeating a motivational phrase

    • taking a short walk

  • If these habits are tough to practice, try to at least take a pause between therapy and screen time – your eyes and mind will thank you.

Greetings from Online Therapy – I Think You’ll Like it Here

As you can see, there are many ways to make the online therapy experience work for us.   I hope these tips enhance your experience of online therapy, so that you can better enjoy the wonders of mental healthcare and technology all from the comfort and privacy of your (possibly candle-lit and cuddly) remote therapy space.

If you are interested in trying online therapy with me, please reach out through the form below, and we'll set up a time for us to talk about how I can help you meet your goals.  

 
 
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