I’ve changed my mind. I wasn’t a believer in online therapy but COVID 19 forced me to face this head-on. I quickly found that online therapy is not only beneficial but it’s absolutely worth it. I was concerned about the level of emotional connection necessary for the depth to occur and have seen repeatedly that the ability to access emotion is available and present. I was concerned with my own level of presence and focus in online counseling, but have found that I’m all in when I’m in session as I am in my office. I decided to share my newfound belief and why I find it so powerful to meet with clients in an online format.
1) I find our sessions to be even more focused on treatment goals. We tend to get to the heart of what is happening for clients even faster than in the office.
2) Clients are open to sharing things that tend to bring up shame or areas that they might not normally share due to being online. There is a bit more anonymity or distance that allows clients to be more vulnerable and open.
3) There is a convenience to online counseling. People can meet in their homes at times when maybe it might be more challenging to come into the office.
4) Online therapy is a great way to reach out for help as a “first step”. We are finding through this COVID19 pandemic that people who are struggling with stress, overwhelm, anxiety, depression or relationship issues are reaching out for tele-therapy, sharing that they have never sought out therapy before. There is a safety in online counseling that might feel more comfortable than coming into the office.
5) One of the things I have truly enjoyed is meeting my client’s pets! I love the dogs and cats who are often a key emotional support to my clients and getting to “see” them on video. It makes me feel more connected to my client and their world.
Here are some quick tips to make your online therapy sessions effective and valuable:
1) Make sure to meet in a confidential location where you can be open and vulnerable. You need to create your own safe place so you don’t need to worry about who can hear you. It’s important to have the same privacy you would have in our office.
2) Therapy With Heart therapists will often check in about how you are feeling as you are sharing. Some clients have shared that this feels a bit more awkward online but the more explicit and open you are about what you are feeling and what’s happening in your body as you are sharing, the more impactful the session will be.
3) For couples, I recommend meeting together on the same sofa or space on the same computer. The model we work from, Emotionally Focused Therapy, has moments when we will ask you to turn and share something with your partner. These enactments are opportunities to hear each other in new ways and will go better if you can see each other face to face.
4) Try to minimize distractions. I know this can be a challenge but turn off your notifications on your computer, maximize the video of you and your therapist, turn your phone off and anything else that might try to take you out of the moment. The more you can prepare ahead of time, the more focused and present you can be in session.
5) Please share feedback with your therapist about how you are feeling about the session and the online therapy process. It’s helpful to hear what’s working and also what you might be needing. We truly want the process to be helpful for you so your feedback is crucial.
Despite my new opinion about online therapy, I can’t wait to get back into the office and start seeing clients in person again. I’m a face to face therapist at heart. But, I’m so very grateful that we can continue offering exceptional therapy to clients in an online format. There are many things I have been challenged with during this COVID 19 pandemic but the move to online therapy was a quick flip for me as I immediately saw, and continue to see, the benefits of online therapy. All our therapists are available for online sessions so feel free to reach out anytime to make an appointment here.
This Post Written By:
Rachel Thomas, LMFT – Therapy With Heart
8737 E. Via De Commercio, Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
Phone: (480) 888-5380
Fax: (480) 203-2881