Tips on Online Psychotherapy
Given the current COVID-19 situation, many mental health service providers have temporarily closed and stopped providing face-to-face therapy sessions with clients. However, as mental health service providers, we have the duty of ensuring the public’s mental health, especially during such trying times. Hence, there is a need to see our clients through video calls.
The transition to holding therapy sessions online may be challenging as this can be a totally new platform for some, but fret not, as here are some tips and good practices for holding online therapy sessions. Here at The Therapy Platform, we use Zoom as it is the most reliable, versatile and user-friendly video call platform.
Click here as Sarah, the founder of The Therapy Platform, explains the 7 tips.
Be early so that the session can begin punctually. Log in to the video call platform and start the session preferably 10 minutes ahead of your appointment. This is to provide ample time to establish a stable Internet connection and ensure that the video call functions, such as the sound and video, are working well. It would be best to close all non-working related applications and browser tabs to give maximum bandwidth for the video call.
2. Switch Off the Camera and Microphone Before Session
Building on Point Number 1, be sure to switch off the camera and microphone when you have logged in to the video call platform earlier than the agreed time. This is to prevent any intrusion of privacy of both you and the client.
3. Maintaining Professionalism
Many of the therapy sessions would likely be held in the comfort of your home especially given the COVID-19 situation. However, there is still the need to maintain your level of professionalism. Dress as how you would when seeing your client in person. Like how therapists read their clients, clients are also able to tell the difference. You can lose the respect of your clients if you do not uphold yourself properly, and that would not be beneficial for you.
4. Not to be Distracted During the Session
Respect your client by giving him or her your fullest attention during the session. Ensure that no one walks into the room or move in the background, not even your pet! This is to maintain good therapeutic boundaries and to respect the clients who have paid to see you. Doing otherwise would be the equivalent of talking to someone else while in a therapy session.
5. Camera Positioning
It would be best to position yourself such that you are in the centre of the frame. This is to simulate proper distancing and body angle while speaking to your client online. It is also recommended that you look into the camera eye when speaking to your client, as this is to mimic eye contact.
The right background can provide a conducive setting for online therapy sessions. A background that is plain and free from things such as wires is recommended. Good lighting and minimal ambience noise will also contribute to creating a conducive setting for psychotherapy. If all these are not available, you may like to use virtual background available on Zoom.
The interesting aspect of holding counselling sessions online is the blending of both the client’s and your environment. The appearance of the physical environment during the video call can bring about the same effect of a therapy room for your clients, hence, it is important to have a suitable background.
7. Backup Platforms
Always have a backup video call platform available. No video call application is perfect, as it may run into glitches from time to time. Fortunately, we are not short of choices. Apart from Zoom, Skype and Google Hangout are two other popular choices. It is recommended that you set up accounts with them in the unfortunate case where you have to switch to another video call platform.
Contact us to be listed on The Therapy Platform to enjoy an array of benefits including 10 bookings at no cost per month, free use of our telehealth system for your existing clients, 20% supervision discount and more!
Technology can be a double-edged sword. It can provide new ways of conducting psychotherapy, such as online therapy sessions, but can also cause problems. As you first switch to online therapy sessions, you may encounter certain issues. Nevertheless, you will be able to solve them and be familiarised with the platform over time.