Online/Phone therapy works, in fact you could end up preferring it…I did.

With the current situation around COVID19 and the advice from officials to keep our physical distance (thanks Amanda for the alternative to ‘social distancing’) you may be concerned about what this means for your mental health and access to your therapist.

Let me answer some common concerns around Teletherapy (online/phone) therapy to ensure that you can stay connected to your therapist during these changing times.

The first time I tried online therapy (sometimes referred to as Teletherapy), I was the client (well the supervisee), and I was sceptical, and now I LOVE it!  I have often heard people mirroring the concerns I had at first and so I want to address some of them in this blog post in the hope that it may help you to understand how beneficial this approach to therapy can be.

My experience

I am accredited by PACFA and to ensure I am compliant I must attend 10 sessions every year with a registered supervisor.  I had wanted to work with 2 particularly spectacular supervisors, I thought I couldn’t work with them because of distance and then I discovered online and telephone sessions and it was a game changer for me.

When I realised how accessible online and telephone sessions made my work with John (Zoom) and Candy (telephone), I felt so excited that I was going to be able to access regular and ongoing supervision with the people that I admired and respected.

Common concerns

I won’t have the same connection online or on the phone as in person

Yep, it is definitely something I worried about, but here is what I have learnt, you can have! The reports I have had from my clients this week (we moved 100% online as of Tuesday) is that their session went as well as if they’d been in my room. This may not be everyone’s experience, but it certainly can work under the right circumstances.

The first session may be a bit strange and you may be more focused on how the camera is angled or how your voice sounds etc. but once you have settled in, you will likely notice that it feels the same.

If it doesn’t, tell your therapist and work through why and what is happening for you around the connection.

I am not tech savvy and it will be complicated

It doesn’t need to be.  Anyone who knows me will agree that I am probably on the lower end of the skills set spectrum when it comes to technology (if they are being kind), and I manage without (too many) hiccups!

I use Zoom (similar to Skype but more secure, check out their privacy policy https://zoom.us/privacy/) and as the therapist, I set up the meeting and I send you a link with a meeting ID.  All you need to do is click on the link.  If you have previously installed Zoom it will take you to the meeting.  You will see either me, or a message saying “wait for the host to start the meeting” and away you go.  If you haven’t previously installed Zoom, the link will prompt you to and then you enter the meeting ID and voila.

There are sometimes fumbly moments when you may connect without video or audio but we can walk you through that.  I suggest having your phone nearby if you are accessing the session on a computer.  That way, if you were struggling, we can call you and talk through the steps.  I usually advise clients to be ready for their first session a few minutes earlier in case of any difficulties.

Also – if online isn’t for you, phone works too!

Benefits

We can problem solve (above) or we can also look at what are the positives? Michele Qunitin, LCSW gives some great insights into the benefits of teletherapy in this blog post https://www.onlinecounselling.com/advantages-online-counseling/ and I have outlined some that have been relevant to me.

Easy access and comfort

I am really lucky to be connected to some amazing supervisors who I love working with but scheduling in my appointments can be tricky.  The supervisors I access most regularly are the two I access through Zoom and the telephone.  I am not limited as much by scheduling, which can be particularly relevant for couples when working with multiple schedules.  Also, you don’t have to travel and find a car park.

Given the current situation with social distancing as a response to COVID19, teletherapy could be a game changer for you meaning you continue to access your therapist’s services.

You can choose a location to access your therapy that is the most comfortable one for you.  Maybe talking to your therapist from the comfort of your own lounge room will provide you with a level of safety and comfort that isn’t matched anywhere else?

Choose the best therapist for you, anywhere in the world!

You could have your pick of the bunch! Maybe you live remotely, or maybe you want to access a therapist who works in a niche field.  You can choose the best therapist for you, regardless of your or their location.

In summary, it may work wonderfully for you and you may find that you want to continue with teletherapy even after the craziness of COVD19 passes. It may not, you may find you prefer face to face sessions.  You will find whatever way works best for you.  What I am suggesting to people though, is you will benefit from keeping a focus on your mental health, and if online or phone therapy sessions mean you can continue accessing your therapy, then give it a go.

We are here and available for you to book in your Zoom or telephone session anytime.  Just email or call Tina or Tracy.

 

Photos sourced through Unsplash (Inside Weather, Oleg Ivanov, Clay Banks, )

If you are struggling and have questions about our counselling services please contact us