Counseling and mental health services have been available online for a while now, but the recent epidemic has moved almost all therapy to the online space. Most therapists are now able to meet with their clients via private HIPAA-compliant video platforms. This can have a lot of positives as it eliminates travel time and allows for more scheduling flexibility. And you still have 1-on-1 access to your therapist. But there are a few things to navigate to get the most out of the experience. Here are my top three tips to get the most out of online mental health services.
Treat it Just Like an In-Person Appointment
Online or not, it is still a therapy session, so make sure you treat it the same way! Block out the time on your calendar, prepare to be alone in a quiet space where you feel comfortable talking. You can also consider wearing headphones or using some white noise outside of the room you’re in to increase your privacy. You can prepare for the session by jotting down a list of topics you want to discuss, having a pen and paper ready and maybe having tissues nearby…..just like your therapist’s office. 😉
Help Your Therapist Treat It Just Like an In-Person Appointment
Make sure you are familiar with your camera and device so you don’t have to think about those things during your session. Do you know where your camera is on your device? Do you know what the video looks like if you have your device is on your lap? On your counter? Etc.? Find the best placement ahead of time so your therapist is not just looking at your forehead! And if you are meeting via video with your therapist, you may also want to consider hiding your front camera view, you know that image of yourself. After all, when you are in therapy in person, you are not looking in a mirror the whole time, right? The view of yourself can be distracting and can pull away from your focus.
Maximize Your Internet Connection
If you are using video to meet with your therapist, you will want to do everything you can to maximize the bandwidth for video. It can help to get as close as possible to your wireless router to limit obstructions in the connection or you can even plug directly into it with an Ethernet cable. You may also want to consider asking other members of the household to limit use of computers, video games, etc. during your session. It can also help to close all the other apps that are running on your computer as well as any other browser tabs. If you are unsure if your connection is strong, you can run a quick internet speed test. You want to have AT LEAST 5 mbps but above 10 is even better.
Eliminate All Your Distractions
During your session, you want to be truly focused on your session. In order to do that, it is really helpful to eliminate as many distractions as possible. If the noise of your family is a distraction, consider doing the session from your backyard or car. If you are easily distracted by notifications, turn your notifications on your computer or phone off and close all other tabs. And since everyone is easily distracted by their phones, consider having your phone out of hands reach if you are not using it for your session.
Online therapy can be a wonderfully convenient and effective tool if you treat it that way. Utilize these tips to get the most out of your online therapy experience!