There’s no question that the past few years have been unusual, to say the least. One of the things that has changed during that time is that people are much more comfortable conducting business online. Remote work and video conference calls feel like a normal part of life for many. For a growing number of people, this shift includes how they approach therapy.
Online counselling has become much more common recently, and it’s not hard to see why many people continue to choose this approach. Having a session that’s only as far away as your phone or laptop is very convenient. This modern format helps people fit their mental health care into their busy lives.
But although research shows that online therapy is as effective as in-person sessions, there’s no question that the experience is different. That doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from this format, however. If you’re interested in trying online sessions, there are some tips you can try to make your experience as comfortable and effective as possible.
Five tips to help you get the most out of online therapy
Therapy is a vulnerable process, so it’s important that you feel comfortable and supported during your sessions. Online therapy is a new experience for most patients, so it may feel a little strange at first. But if you prepare for the experience, you will set yourself up to get the most benefit possible from the experience. Here are five techniques to try.
1. Be prepared to feel a little awkward at first.
Remember your first Zoom meeting or FaceTime visit with family? It probably felt a little uncomfortable. People pick up on an amazing array of non-verbal information without even realizing, it, and an online format makes that more complicated.
When conversations happen by video chat, the differences in nonverbal communication can be a little confusing at first. But people are able to adapt to changes, given enough support and time. If you’re struggling with the differences, talk to your therapist about how you’re feeling. Stick with it, and you’ll probably start to feel more comfortable within a few sessions.
2. Create a supportive space.
Therapists’ offices are designed to be soothing places to open up. Our homes aren’t usually created with the same feeling in mind. While a full remodel of your home probably isn’t practical, you can add some touches to the room you’ll be using for your sessions. A comfortable chair and cozy throw blanket can help you feel at ease. Make sure you have practical items too, such as a glass of water and a box of tissues.
The room you’ll be using should be private enough for you to talk freely and have a door that you can close if needed. If family members need to be reminded to stay out during your appointment, post a sign on the door. This time is for you, and creating the space you need is a powerful message to send to your family members and yourself.
A note about pets: if you find them distracting, leave them outside the room. But for some people, a cuddly cat or dog is a wonderful source of comfort. You know your pet’s temperament and what will work best for you, so don’t be afraid to have your pet by your side during therapy.
3. Prepare for your session intentionally.
Just as it can be difficult to get into a professional mindset when you’re working from home, getting into a receptive state of mind for therapy may take some preparation. It may help to set aside some time to relax and focus on yourself and your needs. Spending a few minutes meditating or doing breathing exercises is a great way to set aside other concerns and prepare to focus on yourself.
This is an excellent time to jot down any questions you may have or issues you’d like to explore. It’s easy to forget things once the session starts, so this is a helpful way to be sure you talk about things that are important to you.
4. Make time to decompress after your appointment.
Therapy can be an emotionally charged experience. If you have appointments in an office, you have built-in time to process the session as you go home or back to work. If your appointment takes place at home, you probably still need a few minutes before you’re quite ready to dive back into your life, but you don’t have the commute time to buffer the two worlds.
Spend a few minutes journaling, listening to music, or just sitting quietly if that feels good. If you have the time and space, a walk is a wonderful way to clear your mind. Therapy is important work, and you deserve some time to recover.
5. Keep communicating with your therapist.
Talk openly with your therapist about how you feel about the sessions. How is the format working for you? Do you have any concerns? If you’re struggling, let them know what’s going on. Some problems are easy to fix, such as if you’re having a hard time hearing or seeing your therapist.
Ultimately, you’re the one who knows if online therapy is a helpful tool for you. Your therapist will not be offended if you decide you’d rather meet in person, so don’t be afraid to express how you’re feeling. We want you to get the support you need, so we’re happy to explore the best way to do that.
Online therapy may be what you’re looking for
If you’re struggling to fit therapy into your schedule, you may find that online appointments are just what you need. And whether you prefer to meet virtually or in person, the compassionate, experienced therapists at Trillium Counselling are here to guide you in this journey. We are committed to supporting our patients, regardless of which format they choose. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please contact us today.