Posted on May 06, 2020, 1 p.m.
Therapy can feel awkward, add to that being done online can make it even more so, but really it doesn’t need to be. Telemedicine has been around even before this outbreak, it is there waiting to help you, if you are willing to try.
For anyone that has issues opening up to people in a face to face setting, you may find it easier to be vulnerable if you are doing it from behind a screen. This is basically an introvert's dream. You may find it easier to disclose more as a result and that can help to deepen the therapeutic relationship.
For those who are just starting to look at online therapy or if your therapist has moved to practicing digitally due to the recent outbreak, it may seem like a daunting transition. It may take some adjustments to settle in, but online therapy can be just as amazing and a worthwhile support system, especially in a time of need/crisis. We’ve borrowed some tips from healthline to help you make the transition to teletherapy.
One of the benefits to online therapy is that you can do it basically at any time and in anyplace, provided you are free from possible distractions. If you are around other people it may be best to go to another room, go for a walk, sit outside, or ask the person to wear headphones. You can even create a soothing contained environment like a pillow fort with string lights. Whatever you decide, make it a point to prioritize the therapy and do it in a way in an environment that feels safest for you.
Obviously it is not going to be exactly the same as being in person, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Don’t be off put by momentary awkwardness if you don’t feel like you and the therapist are not in sync immediately. It may take a bit of an adjustment to not getting messages replied to instantly, but if you keep an open line of communication with the therapist you may be surprised at how adaptable you both are.
It is normal to feel some form of grief for the loss of the in person support, there may be some fear, frustration, and sadness at the loss of this type of connection. Please don’t forget to mention any of these feelings to your therapist as well, together you can work through them.
Most therapy platforms use a combination of communication methods like audio, video, and messaging, some use webcam therapy sessions, and some even offer text messaging as an option. Another benefit to teletherapy is the variety of options and tools that are at your disposal to experiment with while finding what works best for you.
Another big plus is snuggling with a pet while in an online therapy session, which can’t necessarily be done in office. Online therapy can be accessible to each person in a unique way, with a variety of ways to integrate it into your life. You can even send an email to your therapist just getting down how you are feeling at that moment, or forward an article that you would like to discuss at a later date. You can be more creative with online tools than you can in person, which can make it more engaging.
Therapists observe a person’s bodily cues, facial expression, and sort of intuits your emotional state. The ability to read a person is not as strong when you are using telemedicine. Learning to be more descriptive about your emotions can help to provide your therapist useful information. Elaborate on why you may be feeling tired or down, maybe try saying I’m drained and feeling a mix of anxiety and helplessness instead. Being more self aware is a useful skill regardless of the situation, it may be a good time to start in the safe environment of therapy.
During an outbreak many are struggling with getting some of our most basic and fundamental human needs met on a daily basis. There may be issues with remembering to drink enough water, not eating enough, facing loneliness, being fearful for yourself and loved one, whatever the issue is during a time of crisis it is not easy to be an adult and taking care of yourself could be challenging at times.
It can be tempting to think that you are overreacting, but your therapist is working with other people every day who will be most likely sharing some of the same feelings and struggles that you are experiencing. You are not alone, don’t be afraid or reluctant to disclose and ask for help. Ask your therapist how to redirect your thoughts, share resources on how to cope with panic and anxiety, and your therapist can brainstorm with you a variety of ways to help you work through whatever you discuss with them. There are no stupid questions and there are no issues too big or too small, even if it seems trivial to someone else anything that is impacting you is worth talking to your therapist about.
Most therapists are new to telemedicine, so there may be some glitches along the way, but don’t let that discourage you. Give your therapist feedback if a platform is cumbersome to use, let them know if their written messages are too generic or you feel they are not particularly helpful. This is a new experience to most, one that you both need to experiment and make adjustments to in order to figure out what will and what does not work for you.
Online therapy may not be for everyone, and for legal reasons it is not available to certain people such as those under the age of 18. It is a different, slow pace, and there is no body language so you literally have to spell things out. Talk with your therapist to set some goals, work through the adjustment period, experiment with tools to customize the experience to find what is best for you. Online therapy relies on finding the right match, and although it does have limitations, many people are benefiting from it.
Keep the line of communication open and transparent with your therapist and make it a point to talk about what doesn’t feel supportive to you. Don’t be scared of change or trying something new, explain what you need and expect, and be willing to meet halfway as you work together with your therapist who is trying to help protect your mental health, especially during an outbreak or time of great need.
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This article is not intended to provide medical diagnosis, advice, treatment, or endorsement.