It’s been quite the week in Nova Scotia, huh?
The disruption to our lives due to the Coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented.
Most businesses are closed.
Parks and trails are out of bounds.
People are physically distancing themselves from others.
With the very real possibility that life won’t settle back into its predicable routine anytime soon, many people are feeling more frustrated, overwhelmed and isolated than even a month ago.
Because of this, it was difficult to close my doors and move my practice online.
Not because online therapy is not effective, there is good evidence that teletherapy works, but because I wondered how it would impact my clients.
I wondered how my couples clients, now home with kids out of school and daycare while working from home, would manage to make it to their appointments.
I wondered if online sessions would be workable for all my clients who are moms, especially new moms, who already struggle to find any time for themselves with the increased, relentless, 24/7 demands of ‘pandemic parenting’.
I thought about my clients who were already struggling with anxiety and how the heightened anxiety that we are all facing with the Coronavirus might make each day more difficult to get through.
As a result I’ve made several changes to my schedule including early morning and late evening appointments, in addition to my typical afternoon/evening and Saturday hours. I’ve also added 30 minute brief/crisis appointments and 5 pay-what-you-can spots for people impacted by income and job loss.
I’m so thankful that over the past few weeks, people have found their sessions helpful. I’ve had very positive feedback and it’s been a privilege to meet with people and to virtually be invited into their homes.
However, many people who initially started therapy with me were never planning to have counselling appointment online. It can be hard to imagine what an online therapy session would be like or how it could be possible to create a private space in your home where counselling could take place.
If you’ve been contemplating the idea of making an online counselling session work for you, here are some things to consider.
3 STEPS TO PREPARE FOR A SUCCESSFUL ONLINE THERAPY SESSION
1) GET YOUR TECH READY
The online therapy platform that I use only run smoothly using Chrome or Firefox. This means that if you use a MacBook, you need to download Google Chrome a set to your default browser, at least for the time of the session.
You will also be able to hear me more clearly if you have earbuds. Nothing fancy is needed! Even an inexpensive pair or earbuds will help you block out external noise and any echos or feedback during the call.
2) GET YOUR SPACE READY
Recreating the atmosphere of a therapists office is not always easy at home! Especially when schools and daycares are closed and roommates and spouses are working from home (to help I’m offering ‘off hour’ sessions either early morning or later at night and the option of shorter sessions).
Find a quiet place in your house (or even in your car!) where you will be able to have as much privacy as possible for your online therapy session.
Use some creativity to imagine a place where you might be able to have your session with focus and openness…… I’ve turned a partially renovated bathroom in our basement into a home office for maximum privacy. Where can you go?
Even at my ‘real’ office, I have music playing in the waiting room and a white noise machine on the inside to block out any outside sounds. Can you recreate a similar set up?
Setting a phone with some music playing, just outside the door of the room you are in, will help muffle your voice. Or, you could try a white noise app like White Noise Lite on your phone. Put it on the inside of the door, to help keep the sound of kids playing or other household noises from being a distraction.
The more light there is in this space, the more clearly I will be able to see you on the screen. Open your curtains or bring a lamp in from another room if you need to brighten things up for your online therapy session.
Finally, make sure you turn off notifications from social media, log out of your email and exit any other programs you might be running on your computer. This will help the your device to function optimally and you to be able to keep your focus throughout the online therapy session.
Book a test call with me so we can check it all out!
3) GET YOURSELF READY
Get cozy. Maybe you need your most comfortable blanket, your fuzzy slippers or a nice cup of coffee to relax (is that just me?).
Some people bring their pet into their therapy space with them for comfort.
Counselling sessions, even if they are online, are an excellent opportunity for you to care for yourself well.
All the uncertainty, pressure and upheaval over the last few weeks has kept most people in a heightened state of stress.
My best hope is that our time together will help you be more resilient in the the face of all of the unknown going on around us. I look forward to connecting with you online in the coming days and weeks.