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September 2, 2020

6 Tips For Connecting With Your Online Therapist

Shift Team

A woman speaks to her therapist online from the comfort of her own home.

Virtual Therapy

Sometimes life gets busy and we get overwhelmed.

Even in the middle of a hot summer during a global pandemic, so many of us spend our days rushing from bed to work, zoom meeting to zoom meeting to yet another zoom meeting. Throw in kids, parents, a partner, friends and it’s no wonder we’re hard pressed to squeeze in some much needed social time before we collapse at the end of the day. Where do we find time for ourselves?

So, how can we make some time and space for counselling?

Even before the pandemic, more and more people were taking the leap into online therapy as a way to maintain work-life balance and prioritize their mental health. Some might not think starting therapy virtually is ideal and would prefer to connect in person. But if virtual therapy can allow for more accessibility to make ourselves and our emotional wellbeing a priority, then why not take the leap?

It’s not an easy decision. One common concern I often hear when online therapy is being considered is whether or not I can “connect” with my therapist (and vice versa) by video or phone? It may take some time-- for some folks, a few minutes and for others a few sessions-- but it doesn’t have to be difficult to connect virtually with your therapist if you follow these six helpful tips:

  1. Find a private comfortable space – you want to feel safe to share freely and be free of distractions
  2. Optimize connection - close unnecessary windows/apps and make sure you have a solid wifi, internet and/or phone connection;
  3. Be yourself - act naturally, like you’re talking to a friend
  4. Slow down and double check for understanding - make sure what you are saying is being heard to avoid miscommunications
  5. Try to ignore the camera – imagine you are together in the same room
  6. Be direct, honest and forthcoming as you can – to make up for any lost intonation or non-verbal cues

Research is showing that remote therapy can be just as effective as in-person therapy for treating post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. In this NY Times article, Tamara Greenberg, a San Francisco-based psychologist, dreaded the pivot, and now?

“I would say it’s really been one of the most surprising, and in many ways pleasurable, experiences of my professional career.”

Interviews with more than 20 therapists reveal similarly positive experiences, even as they also acknowledged some downsides, and that they missed seeing patients in person.

Choosing therapy, whether virtual or in-person, is committing to dedicated time from our busy days to work on ourselves. And that’s important. Because life can be hard (especially right not). Therapy helps.

Think you’re ready to consider it for yourself? Read more thoughts from our team in The Key to Great Video Therapy, 3 Benefits of Online Therapy, and 3 Misconceptions About Online Counselling.

This article was written by Laura Bloom during their time at Shift Collab.

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