Virtual therapy can pose unique challenges, but these tips can help you get the most from every session.
By Vicky Coppens, MSW, LCSW
Counseling Clinic Supervisor/Therapist
Mental health providers have had to quickly adapt to delivering virtual therapy services to their clients online or by phone due to COVID-19. If you or someone you know is experiencing challenges with their mental wellness during the pandemic, virtual therapy may be a nice support to help you through this time.
Meeting with a therapist virtually, instead of in person, can be a different experience for many. As a therapist and telehealth provider, I’ve put together the following tips to help you get the most out of every virtual therapy session.
Create a Private Space
Make sure that you are able to engage in your session in a quiet, confidential space in your home. Avoid any areas where you will be easily distracted. If you live with others, consider placing a Do Not Disturb sign on the door of your quiet space and have a conversation prior to your appointment regarding your need for privacy. You may also consider using headphones or earbuds that are compatible to your device (laptop, phone etc.) to ensure privacy.
Acknowledge Your Feelings About Telehealth
Keep in mind that it is natural to feel nervous or even awkward prior to starting telehealth therapy. Tell your therapist how you are feeling; they should be able to help you to work through any feelings of discomfort. Ask for what you need. Remember, you are looking for support during a challenging time. If therapy does not appear to be going in the direction that you would like, tell your therapist! Any feedback you give them should be welcome.
Prior to your session, make a list of what you want to address. It’s important for you, the client, to direct your session. In the moment you may forget what it is that you wanted to talk about, particularly if this is your first virtual therapy experience. Another good way to stay focuses is to avoid any multitasking during the session. For the next 45 to 50 minutes, allow yourself to fully engage with your therapist. Try to make eye contact with your camera and focus on what you and your therapist are saying to each other. Make sure that your device is fully charged and is working well prior to the appointment. This will ensure that you are able to fully engage in your session without worrying that your device is going to lose power at any moment.
Again, meeting with a mental health therapist via telehealth may feel uncomfortable at first. However, if you keep these tips in mind and prepare yourself ahead of time, the experience will likely be effective and even enjoyable.
If you are interested in booking a virtual therapy session, Family Services’ Counseling Clinic is currently accepting new clients. To schedule and appointment or learn more, please call (920) 436-6800.