Getting the most out of virtual therapy
1. Create a ritual. When attending in person counselling you have the journey to the office and the moments before in the waiting room. The practices and consistency surrounding the hour can help prime your mind for therapy, helping you consider what it is you’d like to focus on in session and easing you in to a more open and vulnerable headspace. In online therapy, the journey is typically just to another room, potentially between a long list of other tasks. It can be helpful to create your own rituals leading up to your therapy hour. This could be as simple as choosing a consistent location or seat each time and giving yourself a few quiet moments to gather your thoughts prior to beginning the session.
2. Reflect. In the moments before logging on, think about your week and where you are in this moment. Check-in on what needs attention and set intentions for the hour ahead. After the session, note anything that stood out as well as any homework given.
3. Be mindful of your settings. Confidentiality and safety are key components of therapy and ideally you should feel free to speak as freely as you wish. Ensure you are in a space in which your privacy is protected and do your best to limit any distractions like children, spouses, or roommates (pets however are ALWAYS welcome). In shared living situations there can be times this is difficult. If that’s the case, you may want to explore options like going for a walk, driving to a park, or even just sitting inside your parked car. Headphones can also help limit how much others can hear and zoom has a chat option if there are certain words or sentences you do not wish to say aloud. Also, when choosing your location, assess how different settings impact you. For example, if you work from home and are logging into counselling from the same space you do meetings- what impact does this have? Do you feel able to drop into the headspace needed for therapy or would changing locations better serve you?
4. Make it cozy. Sweats, candles, tea, pillows and blankets…. This may be limited by location of course but do what you can to make the space feel extra comfortable. And don’t forget the tissues!
5. Check your wifi. There’s nothing quite like having your screen freeze in the middle of a break through. If possible, ensure that your connection to Wi-Fi is strong enough for streaming.
6. Make it work for you. Online therapy has it’s some unique benefits. For those who are not a fan of eye contact, you may benefit from a walk and talk either with video or without where you are moving your body throughout the hour. You can also color, paint, do a puzzle, or play with lego during the hour- no eye contact required.
7. Decompress. Therapy can leave you raw, emotional, and drained. Leaving the office after an in-person session has a built-in transitional period where you travel home, giving you time to reflect and process. After an online appointment you may be tempted to quickly launch yourself back into life and whatever tasks you were doing beforehand. Give yourself the needed time and space to integrate. Notice your feelings, journal, meditate, shake out your body, go for a quick walk. Honor what you are needing and build this into your therapy routine.