If you're reading this, chances are you're in the same boat as the rest of us - that boat being a pretty horrendous worldwide pandemic that has seemed to bring your "normal" life to a screeching halt. Things are very different right now - many of us are in isolation at home with an unclear timeline. Many of us have experienced an explosive demand for work and increasing levels of personal risk in front-line jobs. If you have kiddos at home, I'm infinitely impressed that you have the time/headspace/wakefulness to read this! Many of us aren't really sure where we stand, and are just trying to play catch-up in understanding this situation - and that's okay. We'll get through this together.
If the COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted your therapy routine, you're not alone. Us therapists had very short notice to transition our practices online, and to be honest, we're still ironing out the bumps in our systems while we all re-adjust. It's been about a month of electronic therapy for me now, and I wanted to share some tips and wisdom for those of you who are looking forward to trying video sessions out for the first time!
The good news is that it's really not that complicated! In fact, I only have three things I really need to talk about: technology, environment, and mindset.
Technology can be a wonderful way to connect, and a literal "life safer" during this kind of situation... but it can still feel complicated sometimes! Resist the urge to punt your laptop out a window in a fit of frustration and/or rage.
Chances are, your therapist has picked a video platform that is user friendly, but you will still need some technology to "make it go". You'll need a device that has a mic and webcam - this means that most smartphones, tablets, and laptops will work! I recommend using a laptop wherever possible, because you can plug it directly into your internet and get great video quality (better than wifi!).
I also recommend using headphones whenever possible for a couple of reasons:
1. Headphones reduce the "echo" that occurs when your mic pics up sound from your speakers.
2. Headphones help to ensure your confidentiality, as people around you can't hear what your therapist is saying.
3. Headphones help you to block out distractions in your environment, and focus on taking this time for yourself.
I highly recommend taking a few minutes before your first video sessions to get yourself set up and test the video platform. If you're a Woodstock Psychotherapy client, that means clicking the link www.doxy.me/woodstockpsychotherapy and checking to make sure your camera and mic are working! If you log in and are experiencing technical difficulties, it's always best to give your therapist a call so that they know that you're struggling and can provide support.
When it comes to preparing your surroundings, confidentiality can be a concern with video sessions, especially if you share a household with someone who you'd like to keep your sessions private from. You might need to get a bit creative to ensure your confidentiality - this could mean asking your family to take a walk, arranging your session for nap time, seeking out an unconventional space (such as your car or garage!)
It is important to note that if you have concerns for your own confidentiality and safety, please let your therapist know so that we can help troubleshoot to ensure you are safe while also getting your therapeutic needs met!
Your surroundings also matter because they help you to get into the "mindset" of good therapy! It can be helpful to ensure your space is comfortable, just like our cozy chairs in office, so that you can freely focus on your therapy in comfort. If possible, you might want to consider sitting in a comfortable chair, in a well-lit room, with a nice cup of tea or coffee! In order to ensure that you are able to focus and hear your therapist well, cutting out background noise such as TV's, phones, radios, etc. helps a lot.
Finally, your mindset is really what matters most. If you approach video therapy with some curiosity and hope that it could be helpful, chances are you'll find the experience to be "not so bad!" It might help to remind yourself as your session approaches that:
-Continuing your therapy is important for your well-being, especially in times of stress and crisis.
-Video therapy has some benefits you might not have thought of, like no commute!
-Talking to your therapist may help ease feelings of isolation, overwhelm, and anxiety
-By taking time for yourself, you are increasing your capacity to care for yourself and others in your life - the old "put your own oxygen mask on first!" saying still applies in a pandemic!
Please know that on our end, therapists are doing our very best to ensure that you receive the same attention, support, and tools that you would if we were meeting in the office. We have every hope that online therapy can be helpful and even a little bit fun, even while we eagerly await the days when we can see your face in office again.
Finally: if things don't go as planned - don't give up! When the therapeutic process comes to bumps in the road, your therapist is "in it" with you. We are here to help you troubleshoot, hear your frustrations, and laugh with you when the dogs decide to join the video call. We expect there to be some bumps, but I'm confident that we can get through them together.
If you'd like to give video sessions a try, give me a call at 226-503-2212, or email firstname.lastname@example.org