WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU SEE A THERAPIST ONLINE

by | Mar 30, 2020 | Online Therapy, Telehealth

Michaela Rudder, Psychologist, Baulkham Hills NSW

30th March 2020

With the increasing availability of technology to support our social connectedness, more and more psychologists are offering therapy online. This is particularly important to ensuring the we can continue to take care of the psychological wellbeing of our community during the current pandemic with associated physical distancing. Isolation and loneliness, which are fast increasing in our current environment, can exacerbate symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. It’s therefore even more important to recognise your own signs of increased distress and to remember that social isolation does not mean that no support is available or that you can’t continue therapy when you can no longer attend face to face!

So don’t hesitate to reach out and book an online session with your therapist, ongoing support is available, no matter what your current circumstances.

How does Online Therapy work?

Online therapy involves providing therapy through a live video connection over the internet and can also include sessions via phone. You receive the same treatment as you would in face to face sessions, it’s just done through a computer! If you’ve ever used Skype, FaceTime, or WhatsApp, you’ve used the same type of technology that is used for online therapy.

Some things to expect may be that;

  • Online therapy is going to feel different than face to face sessions and may be a little awkward at first. Feeling uncomfortable is normal and to be expected when we do something new for the first time, however it will likely get easier as you go. Just like when you first start a new class or a new skill, as it becomes more familiar we start to feel more comfortable.
  • The best results will come if you treat online therapy sessions just like any other session you have with your therapist. So get dressed and treat it as a normal appointment! This helpful way of thinking applies to what you focus on in online therapy sessions as well.
  • Your therapist will check in and discuss questions and concerns you may have about using technology to attend online therapy. They will also discuss with you your goals and expectations for online therapy sessions moving forward, just as you would in a regular session. This may include working on your therapeutic goals, identifying if any of those goals need to be changed or altered given current stressors in your life and continuing to make progress towards them.

Is Online Therapy as Effective as Face-to-Face?

Research indicates that the outcomes for clients who have participated in online therapy are similar to those who attended standard therapy sessions in person.

In 2012, psychologist Dr Autumn Backhaus and her associates conducted a literature review of studies on videoconferencing psychotherapy (VCP), examining 65 articles. The researchers concluded that this form of counselling is “generally associated with good user satisfaction and is found to have similar clinical outcomes to traditional face-to-face psychotherapy”.

Phone therapy is another form of therapy that has been widely researched and shown to be effective in treating a range of disorders and mental health concerns. The biggest benefit is being able to engage in therapy from almost anywhere! Research shows that clients who accessed phone therapy were satisfied with therapy and believed it helped them improve their lives.

Some Other Common Concerns.

We understand that online therapy may not be the usual or way you engage with therapy, and it is normal to have concerns and questions about how it might work for you.

Not feeling comfortable with technology?

It’s true technology can have it’s mishaps, and be a little difficult to set up or adjust to. I’m sure we have also all experienced internet connection issues and computer failures. Technology is great when it works, right! It is important that you talk to your therapist about what to do if this happens during session and they will talk to you about a backup plan, such as connecting via phone if needed.

Concerned about confidentiality?

As psychologists, protecting our client’s privacy and confidentiality and maintaining a safe and supportive space for therapy is of the upmost importance to us. We follow the same rules regarding keeping your information private and confidential when providing online therapy as we do for face to face. Psychologists are also careful to select technology that keeps your information secure and can help you problem solve finding a private space to do your sessions at home.

What if I don’t feel as connected?

Every single person is unique and their needs will be also be unique. It’s ok if it feels strange at first, this may be a way of you finding out your best mode of support, whether that is through online sessions or returning to in person sessions, and that is ok! Discuss any concerns about connection with your therapist and they can support you to increase your sense of connection with them online. Many individuals who felt concerned about this have reported that after trialling online therapy it wasn’t as bad as they thought! 

Using Online Therapy for your Advantage!

Remind yourself that you deserve to have access to support to improve your health (whether that be physical or mental). Although online therapy may have some unique elements that require adjusting to, it also has it’s own advantages.

Convenience and accessibility!

One major advantage of online therapy is that it is accessible from the comfort of your own home. Online therapy may allow you to feel more relaxed, safe, and in control of your space, and some people have reported finding it less intimidating or embarrassing than being in the same room with their therapist. You can also show your therapist your home environment and be connected with items of particular meaning for you, which may help you to manage the emotions that can arise in therapy.

Reducing disruptions to the therapy process

As online therapy can be accessed from anywhere, you can stay connected to your therapist if you are unwell, need to care for sick loved ones or go away on holidays, making it easier than ever to maintain consistency in your mental health support. This is especially helpful if you are in the middle of treatment, or are just starting to build a relationship with your therapist. Having the option to continue therapy with your regular therapist ensures you are able to maintain and reach your therapeutic goals.

No more traffic!

You no longer have to worry about the stress of getting to an appointment, being late or even missing your appointment. And now you have extra time to dedicate to other activities, making it easier to fit therapy in amongst the various demands of your life. 

Having the option to access ongoing mental health support through technology provides you the opportunity to continue reaching your therapeutic goals in support of your psychological wellbeing.

The Talbot Centre team care about being able to provide clients continuity of support, and are constantly reviewing creative ways we can continue to provide the best care to our clients to support their mental health and wellbeing, whatever their life circumstances.

If you or someone you know is needing support and you would like to explore how online therapy can assist you to achieve your mental health goals, give us a call on 02 8814 5703 to discuss how online therapy can assist you.

 

Michaela Rudder

Psychologist, Baulkham Hills NSW

Michaela is a caring and compassionate psychologist who is passionate about reducing barriers and increasing access to high quality psychological support to improve every person’s mental health and wellbeing.

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