A 2018 study published in the Journal of Psychological Disorders found that online therapy is, “effective, acceptable and practical health care.” This case is best made when both the therapist and client are well-prepared for the session.
In recent years, with the rise of more advanced communication tech, and certainly with the influence of the global pandemic, online therapy has become entirely mainstream. Still, you might ask yourself – does it work? The answer is – yes, providing we are well prepared in advance.
This might surprise you, but much of the time online therapy is the preferred way that therapists and clients work together. I personally have observed the way online therapy has evolved over the years and have seen it support many positive therapy outcomes.
In my experience, the sessions give the best results when proper preparation has been made in advance. This article will help you prepare for a session with me.
How to prepare for an online session
The most basic tools you need for a successful online therapy session are:
- A stable internet connection
- A room with enough light that we can properly see each other. Make sure that most of the light is in front of you, and not behind, so I don’t wind up seeing your silhouette.
- A device with a webcam and microphone (i.e. a laptop, tablet or smartphone – if you do not have this, we can discuss telephone therapy or an in-person alternative)
With the basics mastered, it might be helpful to prepare the smaller details to keep the session running smoothly and without interruptions. Here are some ideas:
- I recommend you choose a private, quiet space away from other people. I believe that for therapy to be effective, it helps to feel comfortable talking about personal and confidential matters. Therefore, I recommend you pick a spot that allows for this to happen.
- If you have a pet, please make sure they are being taken care of by someone else. The same can be said for any other noise-distraction you anticipate may interrupt a session.
- So that we don’t delay the start of the session, please be sure all of your equipment is working beforehand.
- Please minimise technological interruptions. For example, if you receive notifications to your device, please try to silence them so that they do not pop up on the screen mid-session.
- If you are using your phone rather than a laptop or tablet, I recommend you put it into a mode whereby you won’t receive any calls.
- I believe that for online therapy to be effective you should try to present yourself as you would at an in-person session. This means being dressed and ready.
- If you’d find it helpful, have a notepad and pen with you. You may benefit from taking notes during the session. Or you may wish to make notes before and after we have spoken. Please feel free to send me these notes if you wish to share them – especially if you have signed up to a subscription for therapy which includes 24/7 access to therapy including messaging and file sharing.
- If you want, have tissues to hand and a glass of water.
- Sit in a comfortable chair where you can see and hear without straining your muscles or eyesight. Let’s both get comfortable so that we can talk openly.
- Place your device at eye height, so we both have the impression that we’re looking directly at each other.
- Also, prop up your device on a stand, tripod or with some books. Hand holding a device whilst having therapy is not recommended.
As well as the list above, you might benefit from emotional and mental preparation ahead of our session. While there is no obligation to do these, it will certainly help you to get more out of online therapy with me.
- Use the free 15 minute conversation to clarify any questions you might have about online therapy or how we work together.
- Consider (if possible) blocking out a small window of time before and after the session. This will help you to be mentally ready for the session to begin, and help you to reflect on the session when it is over. It is often the case that these reflective moments can enhance the therapy experience and improve our therapeutic relationship.
- It can help to remind yourself that online therapy is very similar to in-person therapy. Prepare to treat it as if we are in the same room together. If there is anything about the online therapy that worries or concerns you, tell me! I am available to help facilitate the best possible online therapy experience.