Online therapy has many advantages in today’s modern fast paced world where time is precious and accessibility is essential. It allows you to be able to talk to your chosen professional therapist in the comfort of your own home, workplace or while travelling abroad about anything that is on your mind.
Online counselling is a different experience from being face to face in the same room as your local therapist so making sure your online session goes smoothly for you both is important.
For many people, especially those comfortable with working and communicating online already, it is a convenient and increasingly popular way to access professional therapy with the right therapist for you.
Being prepared for your first session can greatly improve your overall personal experience of online therapy so that you will want to keep working and connecting with your chosen therapist. Online counselling is a good way to focus on self-care and personal development while also addressing any problems you may be experiencing.
It may be a completely new experience for you to talk to a professional therapist about your inner world and put words on your thoughts and feelings, but rest assured you’re in good hands. Any type of personal therapy be it face to face or online takes time to get used to. Your therapist should guide and support you through your online therapy session.
As you establish a relationship with your therapist you will hopefully get more comfortable talking to them over the course of your online sessions just like traditional couch therapy. Try to relax and be yourself as much as possible.
How Can I Get Ready For My Online Counselling Session?
Here are 10 ways to get the most out of your online counselling sessions. These are my tips combined with some great advice for online counsellors from Clay Cockrell, an online counselling expert and founder of onlinecounselling.com. I hope these will help you get the most out of your next online counselling sessions. To book an online therapy session click here.
BE PREPARED. Make sure that you have the correct platform access and contact links for your counsellor before your session starts. I often use SKYPE for online therapy, and I connect with my clients via SKYPE the day they book their session so there are no delays on the day of therapy. Depending on the platform your therapist is using you may need to download software and set up a new account in advance. Read up on any emails your therapist sends you well before your session, these may also contain important details regarding client patient confidentiality.
GOOD LIGHTING. Visually it’s important that your therapist can see you clearly during your online video sessions. It can be helpful to be in a bright room or have a desk lamp close to your laptop or device to improve lighting quality around your face and upper body. Therapists are trained to read body language, facial expressions and visual ques so good quality lighting can enhance the communication and connection between you both and allow for a better sense of eye contact.
INTERNET CONNECTION. Good quality internet connection means that your online therapy session won’t be interrupted. To help improve your internet connection and network speed close down all other applications on your PC. This will also prevent you from being distracted by any PC notifications, messages or pop-ups during the session.
GOOD QUALITY SOUND. Using earbuds or headphones will greatly improve the quality of your conversation with your online therapist. They will ensure that you can hear every word that your therapists is saying and helps drown out distracting background noise. Wearing earbuds can help keep you more focused during sessions. They may take some time to get used to at first, if it feels difficult to adjust to using them you can reduce to one if that feels more comfortable.
BACKUP PLAN. In the possible event of poor internet connection or a PC crashing which can happen unexpectedly on the day, it’s helpful to have your therapists contact number to hand so that sessions can continue over the phone rather than ending abruptly due to IT problems.
RELAX. It can take some time to adjust to talking to a therapist via video-link as you start to develop a therapeutic relationship and get to know your therapist and share your inner world. Relax and try to enjoy the experience as your therapists guides you through the process. Sessions will generally have a good flow with a natural start, middle and end feel to them.
PRIVACY. Ideally find a quiet comfortable private room away from any distractions so that you do not need to worry about being overheard or interrupted during your online therapy session.
GOOD COMMUNICATION. Always face your video cam so that your therapist can see and hear you clearly. Try not to cover your face or mouth and sit comfortably close to your laptop or device. Your therapist will be doing the same. Don’t be afraid to tell them if you are having difficulty hearing and seeing them from your side.
GET COMFORTABLE. We want you to get the most out of your online therapy session so it’s important that you can really talk openly and let your therapist understand your world. Good therapy is about relationship building. The more comfortable you are during your session the more you will relax, open-up and be honest about how you are really feeling. Find yourself a comfortable space to sit for the session, get yourself a coffee if that helps you to relax while talking, whatever works for you. Some clients use diaries or notebooks for note taking and sharing during sessions.
MANAGE EXPECTATIONS. Clients can expect a lot from personal therapy in the first few sessions. They are often hoping therapy will ‘fix’ their situation or that the therapist will tell them exactly what to do. Remember online therapy is a talk therapy and is not prescriptive. The first few sessions are often about giving you space to talk openly and freely about your circumstances, getting your thoughts inline so that both you and your therapist can assess and get a better understanding of the situation or problem before any intervention is explored. Talking and expressing yourself is therapeutic and healing and is a large part of the therapeutic process even if you do not feel like you are making any practical headway. I like clients to end sessions with one or two simple practical things they can focus on between sessions.