Make The Most of Online Counseling: Tips and Tricks
Okay, you’ve decided to look into online counseling. But before you make the leap or have your first session what should you do? How can you prepare? There are some tips and tricks you can use to make your session more comfortable. And, to be honest, a comfortable session is often a more effective one. Are you ready to get started?
1. Pick a day and time that works best for you. Even if you were doing an in-person session this is something you’d have to consider. It’s perhaps even more important when doing a session from home, for example. Ask yourself, when is my energy best? Is there a day of the week when I have less pressure from my workplace and more flexibility? Does my spouse/partner have a day when they get home early and this is helpful (or not helpful)? Resist the temptation to squeeze your session between other strict time commitments.
2. Don’t multitask. Be sure to set aside a time for therapy and treat it as sacred. Silence your phone. Turn the stove off. Put a movie on for the kids and set them up with snacks. Sometimes interruptions are unavoidable but anything you can do to minimize them will be helpful in the big picture. Also, transitioning to online sessions can require some patience as you learn to use the technology so be sure to have your whole brain and body in the present moment.
3. Create privacy. If you are doing a session from home or your office be sure to create as much privacy as you need so that you can talk openly and honestly. If you are home with others you might try and go to a room where you can close the door. Even going to the garage or your car might be an option. It’s important that you can say what you need to say without being fearful of offending or worrying others. Wearing headphones can ensure that others do not hear your therapist talking.
4. Use messaging. If you cannot get away from others and feel that you cannot be totally honest consider using text or messaging to say what you need to say. Personally and
professionally, I would not recommend relying entirely on text or messaging for counseling services, but as a supplemental tool. At Guided Wellness Counseling I use a
website service called Doxy.me that allows us to connect over video. But, it also offers a messaging box so that my clients can type a quick note such as, “My kid just came in the room so I need to stop talking about XYZ…” or other intimate details they cannot say aloud. Messaging also allows me to send links, articles or other resources quickly for use in session.
5. Say everything. In typical times we may have met in my St. George office and had the ease of reading each other’s body language or picking up on subtle shifts or facial
expressions. With telehealth sessions it’s important to be extra clear about what you are feeling. Happily, this clarity is a good skill to have for your emotional health and mood, period! So if you are confused about something, tell your therapist, “I’m confused about that.” If you are suddenly feeling triggered, anxious or overwhelmed I want you to literally say, “When I heard you say that I started feeling really overwhelmed.” You might be surprised how online therapy might boost your communication skills.
I’ve worked with hundreds of clients over the years and for each person, there was a reason to start or not start counseling until just-the-right-time. But don’t let your anxiety or awkward feelings towards online counseling be your reason. Let me help you troubleshoot the transition. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about online sessions or mental health in general. If you are sensing that your depression, anxiety, moodiness or PTSD is getting out of hand then now is the time to explore your options. We can do this together.