4 Tips for Making the Most of Online Therapy
October 28, 2020
Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, telehealth and online therapy were highly useful and engaging approaches to help with mental health concerns. Now more than ever though, connecting with mental health professionals virtually is an important piece of working toward becoming the version of yourself you would like to be. Here are a few tips to help you make the most of an online therapy session.
1. Approach therapy with intention
When you prepare for an in-person therapy session, you are required to take certain steps to get there. For example, you drive to your appointment, enter your therapist’s office, settle in, and so on. These steps are intentional and help you prepare to settle into the therapeutic moment. When you are approaching a telehealth appointment, oftentimes, especially in a quarantined COVID world, it may just be transporting to the sofa, which does not provide the needed time to quiet your mind and prepare.
A few minutes prior to your online therapy session, make space for yourself by intentionally preparing your environment. Create a calm area and get situated wherever you are going to have your session--the sofa, your bed, lounging on the floor. Get water or a cup of coffee or tea for some added comfort. Get logged on and ensure you have a strong internet connection. Avoid keeping yourself busy prior to your session. Take a moment or two to relax and mentally prepare for your session. You’ll get more out of your online therapy session if you approach it mindfully and focused rather than distracted.
2. Be patient
Online therapy has many benefits, but it can take some getting used to. When we are in a room with someone, we often make assumptions about body language and other non-verbal cues. When you are first adjusting to online therapy, verbalizing actions (both yours and your therapists) becomes necessary. For example, if your therapist is taking notes, s/he may need to say, “Let me just write that down,” so that you know what s/he is doing; whereas, if you were physically present in a room together, you would obviously be able to tell s/he was writing a note.It may take a session or two for you and your therapist to get comfortable with expressing yourselves virtually.
In addition, as with all technology, there may be complications with internet connections and a delay with communication. Being patient and understanding of some of the small challenges that come with online therapy is important so you can focus on reaping the unique benefits that telehealth can provide.
3. Do not expect miracles after one session
Online therapy is not like a medical appointment where you go when you feel sick, get an antibiotic, and feel better within a week. It is important to understand that psychotherapy takes time. Because online therapy requires you to address personal difficulties in your life, it is important to spend time getting to know your therapist. Approach your therapy with the willingness to invest time with your therapist. It is important to build a relationship with your therapist so that you feel safe talking about the more difficult aspects of your life and history. Psychological distress is often very complex. Honor yourself by giving yourself the time to work through the issues bothering you.
4. Approach each session with an open mind and curiosity.
The cool thing about online therapy is that you never know what you will discover! You can prepare for your session by giving some thought as to what you would like to talk about and work through, but also allow yourself to talk openly about whatever comes to mind. When we stay curious about ourselves (instead of being defensive), we often learn things about ourselves we never knew. Online therapy can help us expand our world by showing us things we were previously unaware of. Settle in, open up, and engage with your online therapy!
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