Online therapy is a great way to get the support you need in the comfort of your own home.
From Skype to Zoom, there are plenty of video conferencing platforms that make online counselling easy and convenient for anyone with an internet connection. But there are a few extra things to think about when preparing for your online counselling session.
Create a suitable environment and make the most of your online counselling sessions with these ten tips.
1. Give yourself time to set up
Allow at least 5-10 minutes to get set up before your session to avoid rushing to get ready at the last minute. This will allow you to test out your video and microphone and troubleshoot any technical difficulties without eating into your appointment time.
2. Ensure your internet is stable
A reliable internet connection is a must. If your Wi-Fi is patchy in certain parts of your house, try setting up next to the router to ensure a strong and fast connection.
3. Find a private room or space
Having someone else in the room might make it hard to concentrate or make you feel uncomfortable sharing certain things with your counsellor. Privacy is important, so find a quiet, private room or space for your online counselling session – and keep energetic cats and dogs out.
4. Get the lighting right
Your counsellor wants to see your face! Make sure there’s enough light to show your face on camera, and sit in the centre of the screen with your head and shoulders in the picture (like a passport photo). Natural lighting is best, but use lights and lamps to make yourself visible if need be.
5. Turn off ceiling fans
Ceiling fans can create a flickering effect on camera. It’s best to turn them off during your online therapy session.
6. Use earphones
Whether you have noisy neighbours, live near a busy road, or your partner likes to play the TV loud, background noises can be an unwanted distraction. Protect your concentration and use earphones or headphones to block background noise out.
7. Close other tabs
Having other internet programs open can chew up some of your internet and cause your system to slow down. Not to mention, notifications and alerts from Facebook and other sites can interrupt the flow of your conversation. Close other tabs or mute notifications before your session.
8. Make a list
If there are a few things you’d like to talk about in your online counselling session, it can help to write a list. You can refer to your list if you lose your train of thought or get interrupted by your child, partner, or pet.
9. Put your phone away
Phones are distracting even when they’re on silent. Remove the temptation to check your phone or watch notifications lighting up the screen by putting it in a cupboard or drawer until your session is over.
10. Have a backup plan
Technology doesn’t always work the way we want it to. It’s a good idea to have a plan B lined up just in case your online counselling session gets interrupted by a dodgy internet connection. You might like to take your session over the phone if this happens.
Bonus Tip: Take some time after your session
After face-to-face counselling, you’d normally have time on the trip home to think about the session. But with online counselling, it can be easy to immediately go back to your daily tasks. If you can, take some quiet time to reflect on the things you discussed and how you’re feeling.