Opting to start couples therapy online with a relationship therapist is a positive step toward working together and working through any problems or challenges you may be facing. There are many benefits of online therapy, particularly for couples with busy schedules, hectic lifestyles, and childminding to consider.
With so many relationship therapists working online currently, virtual therapy also allows you to be more selective about finding the right professional therapist you wish to work with because you are not restricted by their, or your, location. Plus, the ease and convenience of checking in online for virtual therapy makes it is easier for couples to schedule and attend sessions with minimal interruption to everyday life.
While online therapy relieves many worries, there is one important aspect that needs to be taken into consideration: the environment you plan to hold your sessions in.
Successful outcomes in relationship therapy are largely based on engagement in the therapy process, trust in your couple’s therapist, and how you and your partner interact together in, and out of, the therapy room.
Creating the right atmosphere for your online therapy session has a strong influence on your ability to engage in therapy and with each other. Therefore the atmosphere affects your overall therapeutic experience, particularly in the early days.
In traditional face-to- face therapy, your therapist is the one responsible for creating the perfect environment and conditions for your therapy sessions. They provide a quiet and private space, comfortable seating, soft lighting, plus other necessities like water, pens and paper for notes, and tissues when tearful emotions arise. There are no interruptions, distractions, or incidents that could disrupt your valuable time together within the therapeutic space. That hour of couples therapy is a concentrated, and often intense, experience together because the therapist has considered all of the conditions on your behalf.
The opposite is true with online therapy. Here, the couples are responsible for creating the right environment and atmosphere for a successful online session and many aspects of this are completely out of the therapist’s control. It is now up to the couples to consider all of the small and practical elements of the session in advance that would create the perfect atmosphere for couples therapy.
Creating the perfect atmosphere is simple, you just need to plan ahead with a few practical and technical considerations. Check out the article preparing for your first online couples therapy session together for more tips.
Creating the right atmosphere for your online therapy session has a strong influence on your ability to engage in therapy and with each other.
The couples must consider and prepare their environment for the session in advance. They must decide on the most comfortable place to sit together for the duration of the session; the kitchen table, home office, or quiet living room space works well for most couples. Find a space that feels comfortable, private, and completely free from distractions.
These considerations will be completely new challenges for couples just starting out with online therapy, and it might feel like a lot to take on initially, but the preparation will be worth it. Practice makes perfect, and most of these practical arrangements will come naturally to you both in just one or two sessions.
Of course, we understand it is not possible to control every little detail, but with a little preparation and planning, together you can create the perfect environment for your online couples therapy session.
The Practical Things to Consider
Distractions are bound to arise, but you can certainly try to be as prepared as possible. Remember to have water, tissues, and a pen and paper within arm’s reach. Ensure that you are in a well-lit area so your therapist can see you and your partner clearly. Make sure you are both sitting comfortably and able to keep warm in the space for your session.
Also, you should aim to predict and avoid potential disruptions to your session. While we all love our pets, they are the one of the most common session distractions for clients! As much as possible, try to keep pets outside of the room for the duration of your session. And if you have a busy household, post a “Do Not Disturb” note outside your door to avoid the potential for family to interrupt.
The Technical Stuff to Think About
There are a few technical considerations that naturally come up when working and meeting online. Ideally, you would use a PC, laptop, or tablet for your virtual session because the screen size is bigger and this makes it easier for you and your therapist to see each other. You’ll also want to ensure you have a strong connection; do this by closing all other apps and, browsers on your device and by turning off any background noise like TV or radio. Be sure to put your phones on silent and out of sight for the length of the session as they are another common distraction during online therapy.
Most therapists use HIPPA compliant and secure telemedicine software like DOXY for online therapy, which will have a Pre-call Test function for you to click before the session starts to check the audio and visual quality. Complete the test and turn the volume up so you and your partner can easily hear your therapist in sessions. Unfortunately, headphones cannot be used for couples therapy, so it becomes even more important to make sure all background noise is reduced.
You should also log in five minutes before the start of your session to ensure you have the correct link and that your sound and audio are working well.
We all expect technical hitches from time to time and have learned to be flexible while working virtually. With a little bit of preparation, you and your partner can create the perfect atmosphere for your couples therapy session. And a positive virtual therapy experience ensures you will both feel committed and motivated to continue therapy together. Find out more at www.orlaghgahan.ie or read more about online therapy and couples therapy via my blog.