Our top 5 tips to help you have the best online therapy experience
Having therapy remotely or online can be daunting, especially if you are used to seeing a therapist face to face. Since the Covid-19 pandemic we have all had to get used to working from home and video calling work colleagues, family, and friends. In fact, research shows that remote therapy can be as effective as therapy in person (Humer & Probst, 2020).
Here are our tips to get the most out of your online therapy experience:
1. Identify a quiet space where you won't be disturbed
One of the hallmarks of therapy is that it is a confidential conversation between therapist and client, which can be challenging when you are not in your therapist's office. During the course of therapy you are likely going to be talking about some difficult situations and feelings, so it is crucial that you feel comfortable and safe during the process. This may mean telling the rest of the family or your housemates that you are in a meeting/on a call and you can't be disturbed.
2. Get your tech ready beforehand
Your therapist will have informed you before the appointment what platform they are using for the session. Common ones are Zoom, Skype or VSee. If you are using a platform that requires a password, be sure to keep this private to ensure confidentiality. Prior to the session familiarize yourself with how to access the session if you have not used that particular platform before. Ensure you have a charger and headphones to hand. Using headphones is preferable, both from a confidentiality point of view and so that the sound quality is as good as it can be. Finally, have a think about where you will position the laptop/phone so that you
get the best lighting (for example, not directly in front of a window).
3. Comfort essentials
Having the basics ready beforehand can really help get you in the right mindset for your session. For example, having a glass of water or a cup of tea to hand, as well as any tissues you might need or a notepad and a pen if you like to jot things down during the sessions.
4. Keep distractions to a minimum where possible
Having emails pop up, especially if you are on a work computer can be very distracting for you and your therapist. Equally, phone calls, messages and social media notifications are all things that can be distracting and could disrupt the flow of the session. Before your session just make sure your phone is on airplane mode/silent and turn off email notifications to enhance our experience of the session.
5. Troubleshooting technical issues
Your therapist will be very used to technical issues and what to do when they happen. Freezing screens, buffering Wi-fi, or laptops that just don't do what you want them to do during the session are all par for the course. Speak to your therapist if you are worried about these things happening, and have an alternative way of communicating should things stop working. For example, sometimes stopping the video feed for a few minutes can help (and you can still continue talking), or continuing the session by phone may be an alternative.
British Psychological Society. (2020). Effective therapy via video: Top tips. Resource paper.
Humer, E. & Probst, T. (2020). Provision of remote psychotherapy during the Covid-19 pandemic. Digital Psychology, Vol 1 (2), 27-30.
Markowitz, J.C. et al. (2020). Psychotherapy at a distance. The American Journal of Psychiatry