Therapy sessions online: advantages and practical considerations
Deciding whether you would like to see your therapist in person or online is a highly personal decision - and you will likely take multiple factors into account before deciding. Here are some of the advantages of having therapy sessions online via a video call.
Accessibility and Convenience
One of the primary advantages of online therapy is its accessibility. Having the option of seeing your therapist online eliminates geographical and physical barriers, allowing you to access therapy from the comfort of your own home or any location with an internet connection.
Online therapy eliminates the need to allocate time and money for travel to see your therapist, saving you valuable resources. In addition, sessions can often be emotional and removing the need to travel immediately after a session is often very helpful.
It's a great option if you travel often e.g. for work - allowing you to stay connected no matter where you are, providing continuity in your work with your therapist. It's also often the best option for people with mobility issues.
Finding the perfect match
Online therapy gives you a much broader range of therapists to choose from. Without being limited to professionals in your immediate vicinity, you can instead select a therapist who offers specific therapeutic modalities and most completely fulfils your needs and preferences. This expanded choice can empower you to find the therapist with whom you resonate the most, ultimately fostering a more effective long-term therapeutic relationship.
How to get most of your therapy sessions online
Therapy sessions online work just in the same way as face to face. Even though the client and the therapist may be in different physical locations, a sense of a safe shared space and connection can easily be established – especially with some preparation. Here are some important considerations and suggestions if you are planning to have online sessions:
It is very important that you are in a private space for your sessions. Find a comfortable space where you won't be disturbed, seen or overheard by your loved ones, colleagues, etc. This will help you to focus, communicate freely and connect more deeply to yourself and the process.
Consider using headphones to block out any surrounding noise and for increased privacy.
Although your therapist is likely to be on the screen right in front of you, it's a good idea to look around the space you are in (or outside of the window) from time to time, moving your eyes slowly, in a relaxed way, just as you would naturally do if you were in the same room. This might help you feel more present, as well as more relaxed.
Sort out your tech ahead of time:
- regularly update the app that you're using for sessions (e.g. Zoom, Skype);
- close any apps that might slow down your computer or you internet connection (e.g. Dropbox syncing in the background or updates running);
- avoid using VPNs as these slow down internet speeds, unless you need it to be able to use Zoom/Skype;
- Close your email and switch off any other notifications.
Put your mobile phone on silent mode, face down or even better on air-plane mode. This is your time for you.
Have a glass of fresh water and a box of tissues available (just in case).
Wear comfortable clothing and have a blanket easily available (it's not unusual for the subjective sense of body temperature to vary greatly during sessions depending on our physiological state).
You might want to retreat into your private space 15 minutes before the start of the session to meditate, journal or simply check in with yourself to see what needs most time, space and support in that given moment so you can get the most out of your time with your therapist.
You might want to create a short ritual for yourself (e.g. lighting a candle, playing a piece of music) just before the session to symbolically shift into a therapeutic space.
You might want to have a notebook handy to make notes or sketches immediately after your session. Take a moment for yourself before reconnecting with others.