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Virtual Therapy is Becoming the New Norm for Counseling—Here’s How You Can Get the Most Out of It

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect public health and economies globally, rising amounts of anxiety and distress have taken a toll on a lot of people’s mental health. The need for counseling and therapy sessions are more intense than ever as people get stuck in isolation.

Since the coronavirus-related shutdowns started in mid-March, a lot of therapists and patients have now turned to remote therapy via phones or webcams. What began as a temporary virtual set-up has become a long-term solution.

Although virtual therapy is not the same as the experience of being inside the therapist’s office, the regular remote check-ins are pretty helpful as people try to cope with stress, loneliness, anxiety, and depression due to losing their job, not being able to leave the house, or homeschooling children.

Tribeca Therapy founder Matt Lundquist reveals that he felt surprised yet pleased that almost all of his patients wanted to continue with their virtual therapy throughout the pandemic. He said that body-language gestures, patience, and being able to express your needs could help you get the most out of your virtual therapy session. Aside from that, here are other tips that could get you through virtual counseling.

Therapists are now checking in on their patients remotely and are turning to virtual therapy.

Don’t Be Shy About Speaking Up

Since the therapist and the patient can’t see body language cues of each other through a webcam, it can be a challenge to read each other since body language is used to identify the right time to speak or respond.

To work their way around that, Lundquist and his patients have agreed to use more on-screen hand gestures. The mute and unmute feature in video calls are also helpful, especially for couples and family therapy. Effective results can come out of being patient and giving time for everyone to adjust.

Find a Safe Space

If you have housemates or roommates, you may want to find a quiet space where you can have alone time. Having a safe space is conducive for a productive virtual therapy, according to therapist Linda Snell of New Method Wellness.

Make sure that you can be free with your emotions and feelings in the place that you chose. Snell suggests using your walk-in closet, bedroom, backyard, or balcony. If the privacy is still not enough, sit inside your car or go for a walk alone.

Do your virtual therapy session in a private space where you feel comfortable to bare your thoughts and emotions.

Keep it Under the Radar by Saying That You Have a Weekly Meeting

If you don’t want other people you’re isolating with to know that you have therapy sessions, tell them that you will be in a weekly meeting in a set schedule and that some alone time and privacy would be very much appreciated.

Get them into the habit of you having a meeting so they won’t notice if you’re in a virtual therapy session. You can also play white noise or music as your background. For more privacy, hang a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.

Discuss What You Feel is Most Important

In the early weeks of stay-at-home orders and when layoffs began, most people wanted to talk about how they can cope with the uncertainty of the situation.

Now that we’re used to the feeling, some people want to go back to the issues that they were tackling before the pandemic. Meanwhile, others still want to discuss pandemic-related concerns. Either way, Lundquist thinks it’s okay. What’s important is that you can communicate your needs to your therapist. You can even switch your topics.

It’s up to you if you want to discuss your feelings about the pandemic, or you want to touch other topics.

Bring Up Your Concerns to Your Therapist

A considerable number of therapists and patients have moved to the virtual landscape for therapy sessions. However, the less tech-savvy ones may want to rely more on phone calls rather than video calls.

If you find yourself getting troubled over a particular concern during the session, Lundquist says that you shouldn’t be afraid to bring it up to your therapist. After all, it’s your therapy. After you inform them of the problem, try to suggest a possible way to address it that would make things easier and more comfortable for you.

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