Online therapy has many advantages in today’s modern fast, paced world where time is precious, and accessibility is essential. It allows you to be able to talk to your chosen professional therapist in the comfort of your own home, workplace or while travelling abroad about anything that is on your mind.
Online counselling is a different experience from being face to face in the same room as your local therapist, so making sure your online session goes smoothly for you both is important. These simple tips will help you feel confident about starting online therapy and coaching at any stage.
For many people, especially those comfortable with working and communicating online already, it is a convenient and increasingly popular way to access professional therapy with the right therapist for you.
Online therapy and coaching
Being prepared for your first session can greatly improve your overall personal experience of online therapy so that you will want to keep working and connecting with your chosen therapist. Online therapy is a great modern way to focus on self-care and personal development while also addressing any problems you may be experiencing.
‘Relax, be yourself and try to enjoy the experience as your therapist guides you through the online therapy process.’
It may be a completely new experience for you to talk to a professional therapist about your inner world and put words to thoughts and feelings, but rest assured you’re in safe, experienced hands. All new personal therapy experiences, whether it is face to face or online, take some adjusting. Your therapist will gently guide and support you through your early online therapy sessions.
As you establish a relationship with a new therapist and build consistency, you will become more comfortable opening up in the online session, just as you would in traditional couch therapy. Try to relax and be yourself as much as possible.
10 Ways to prepare for your online therapy session
A little preparation goes a long way when it comes to getting the most out of your online therapy and coaching session. Here are my ten simple ways to get the most out of your online therapy appointments. If you feel ready to book a session with me today, click here.
BE PREPARED. Make sure that you have the correct platform access and contact links for your therapist before your session starts. I use DOXY, which is similar to ZOOM, only it is an online clinical platform for health clinicians. Check the booking confirmation and any emailed information in advance of a session for login details. Pre-session emails may also include important information regarding client-therapist confidentiality and cancellation policies etc.
GOOD LIGHTING. Visually it’s important that your therapist can see you clearly during your online video sessions. It can be helpful to be in a bright room or have a desk lamp close to your laptop or device to improve lighting quality around your face and upper body. Therapists are trained to read body language, facial expressions and visual cues, so good quality lighting can enhance the communication and connection between you both and allow for a better sense of eye contact.
INTERNET CONNECTION. Good quality internet connection means that your online therapy session won’t be interrupted. To help improve your internet connection and network speed, close down all other applications on your PC. This will also prevent you from being distracted by any PC notifications, messages or pop-ups during the session.
GOOD QUALITY SOUND. Using earbuds or headphones will greatly improve the quality of your conversation with your online therapist. They will ensure that you can hear every word that your therapist is saying and help drown out distracting background noise. Wearing earbuds can help keep you more focused during sessions. They may take some time to get used to at first, if it feels difficult to adjust to using them, you can reduce to one if that feels more comfortable.
BACKUP PLAN. In the possible event of a poor internet connection or a PC crashing, which can happen unexpectedly on the day, it’s helpful to have your therapist’s contact number to hand so that sessions can continue over the phone rather than ending abruptly due to IT problems.
RELAX. It can take some time to adjust to talking to a therapist via video-link as you start to develop a therapeutic relationship and get to know your therapist, and share your inner world. Relax, be yourself and try to enjoy the experience as your therapist guides you through the online therapy process. Sessions will generally have a good flow with a natural start, middle, and end feel to them.
PRIVACY. Ideally, find a quiet, comfortable private room away from any distractions so that you do not need to worry about being overheard or interrupted during your online therapy session.
GOOD COMMUNICATION. Always face your video camera so that your therapist can see and hear you clearly. Try not to cover your face or mouth, and sit comfortably close to your laptop or device. Your therapist will be doing the same. Don’t be afraid to tell them if you are having difficulty hearing and seeing them from your side.
GET COMFORTABLE. We want you to get the most out of your online therapy session, so it’s important that you can really talk openly and let your therapist understand your world. Good therapy is about relationship building. The more comfortable you are during your session, the more you will relax, open up and be honest about how you are really feeling. Find yourself a comfortable space to sit for the session, get yourself a coffee if that helps you to relax while talking, whatever works for you. Some clients use diaries or notebooks for note-taking and sharing during sessions.
MANAGE EXPECTATIONS. Clients can expect a lot from personal therapy in the first few sessions. They are often hoping therapy will ‘fix’ their situation or that the therapist will tell them exactly what to do. Remember, online therapy is talk therapy and is not prescriptive. The first few sessions are often about giving you space to talk openly and freely about your circumstances, getting your thoughts in line so that both you and your therapist can assess and get a better understanding of the situation or problem before any intervention is explored.
Talking and expressing yourself is therapeutic and healing and is a large part of the therapeutic process, even if you do not feel like you are making any practical headway. I like clients to end sessions with one or two simple practical things they can focus on between sessions.
Jump right in!
Finally, jump right in! Starting therapy or coaching with a new professional is a really positive experience for you. Your therapist will guide you through the session so you don’t need to worry about that. Just be yourself! Get in touch if you want to start online counselling and online coaching here.
About Orlagh Reid, Psychotherapy & Coaching, Ireland
Orlagh Reid is a qualified Life & Business Coach, Psychotherapist, Addiction Counsellor and Specialist Fertility Counsellor located in Naas, Co. Kildare, Ireland working primarily online with clients in Ireland and worldwide. She has been an accredited member of the Irish Association of Counsellors & Psychotherapists (IACP) since 2015. Orlagh is also a health writer and facilitates online groups for men and women’s health, wellbeing and sexual health.