For some, teletherapy has been a smooth transition, while for others it has been very difficult. I recently came across an article by Sam Dylan Finch on www.healthline.com
with great tips to make the process feel a little better. Thought I would pass it along. Read the tips below to help you streamline teletherapy to work best for you.
Practice Update: While I am strictly virtual now, as soon as the repairs have been completed in our building, I hope to come back to the office one or two days a week. I will keep you posted.
Carve out a dedicated time and space for therapy. Doing it while multi-tasking is not a good idea. When you go to a therapist’s office, you are not looking at your phone or checking emails, so in order to get the most out of the session from home, isolate yourself from all the noise and distractions as best as you can. Also be sure you are in a place where you feel safe and relaxed. Again, you want to be able to focus on the session. Wear headphones if you need to, so that others may not hear what the therapist is saying, if that is what is helpful to you.
Work through the awkwardness. Believe it or not, if you had been doing in-person therapy prior to COVID, you could be grieving the loss of that form of help. Know that this is normal and it may take time to adjust to the form of teletherapy being used currently. If you are using texts or emailing, you have to adjust to not getting answers right away. There could be a delay. If you are doing video sessions with your therapist, know that there may not be the same energy in the room as there was before. Again, this is all part of the adjustment. Keep at it and talk to your therapist about the awkwardness. They are most likely adjusting as well. It should get more comfortable once you get in a rhythm.
Be flexible with the form of teletherapy being used. Your therapist may have to alter the communication method due to many reasons. If you like video the best, let your therapist know so they can make every effort to do that most often if they can. If you prefer secure emails or text messages, let them know that as well. They may not always be able to adjust, but there is nothing wrong with asking. Communicating is key.
Appreciate the unique parts of Teletherapy. For example, you may not be able to bring your pet to in-person therapy, but if they happen to be in the same room with you while you are in session, then the therapist gets to see the animal you have been talking about for awhile. I also have found that doing therapy while a person is at home, they no longer have to take what they learn in my office and apply it to home. They are already at home, so they are better able to connect with the assignments and experiences because they happened in their own living room or dining room.
In the absence of body cues, your therapist may need you to describe more fully what is happening in the moment for you. They need to know what is happening in the room around you and what is making you feel comfortable or uncomfortable. They may need to know that you are feeling more fidgety if you are on a phone call. They may need to know that you are getting upset about what was just said and need a minute to calm down, especially if they cannot see you. Talk with your therapist to be sure you are conveying the truth of the moment. The therapist should check in with you often as well to be sure they are getting the whole story.
Be willing to ask for what you need, even if it seems “silly”. With COVID, some simple things could be missing from your life. For example, you might be lonely because you are not getting out and seeing friends. You might not be sleeping well. The people you are living with could be driving you nuts, since you are ALL home….spouse and kids. With the current environment, that is not unheard of. Trust your therapist that they will respect your needs and help you work through them.
Give your therapist feedback often. Your therapist may be new at teletherapy as well, so there could be some glitches. Maybe the therapist’s background is distracting. Maybe the therapist is not being engaging. If the platform of the therapy is not working, ask the therapist if we could change to a different platform. The therapist is not necessarily always aware of what is working and what is not……especially if you are not in the same room.
This is just a short list of what to think about as the world of teletherapy works to be a part of our future. I envision a hybrid practice in the near future, as there are many who enjoy the perks of teletherapy such as not having to worry about traveling or weather or getting a babysitter. As time passes, we will settle into the best practices for our clients, but please be patient with those in our field, as we are adjusting too. I appreciate all of you and with you a Happy Spring.
Thank you for your trust in me. Be safe and be well.
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Maryellen Dabal, MA, LMFT
305 Miron Drive
Southlake, TX 76092