How to Make Online Counseling Most Effective

Most Hollywood movies paint therapy as an easy, fun-filled process that delivers instant results. But that isn’t quite true. Sharing your mental and emotional challenges with someone else can be a daunting task. And having to do so via virtual platforms can make therapy even more challenging.

With the outbreak of the coronavirus, online counseling is now extremely common. You need to share your fears and worries with someone who truly understands you and can also guide you on how to successfully thrive during these challenging times.

Here are 7 ways to ensure a smooth (or not-so-rocky) transition into online counseling and a very effective overall experience.

1.    Choose a style or format that works best for you

Online counseling comes in various formats; audio-visual sessions over a webcam, phone calls, text messaging, or even emails.

If you prefer a bit of flexibility in your therapy sessions, some platforms offer a combination of audio and video sessions. So, you can engage in a video call with your therapist today, and the next day, have a long, meaningful chat over the phone.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. Examine your daily schedule, and more importantly, your preferences to help you select the most suitable online counseling option.

2.    Be intentional – Prepare!

When you walk into your therapist’s office, chances are you have a list of questions or issues you want discussed. You hope to have gained clearer insight or understanding when the session comes to a close. That same mental preparation you put into a physical meeting is also required for online counseling.

Jot down your concerns and worries. Think about how you want the session to go and what you’re going to say. Prepare yourself mentally to get the best results.

3.    The right space, the right time

Therapy is hard work. To be effective, it requires your full concentration. Enclosed in your therapist’s office, you are faced with little or no distractions.

With online therapy, there is always the possibility of being distracted either by the kids, your partner, or a roommate.

To get the best out of each therapy session, set aside a space in your home where there will be virtually no interruption and where you can maximize privacy.

Don’t try to slot your counseling time in between your house chores or while you’re on the way to work. Therapy is a personal time requiring quiet ambiance and deep thinking.

4.    Yes, it might be awkward at first

For some, online therapy works like a charm. If you don’t fall into that category, don’t worry. You’re not alone.

Just as with entering a new environment or trying something new, there will be difficulties and challenges. A bit of awkwardness is also understandable. Rather than shy away from it, prepare yourself mentally to expect it. Understand that it’s okay to feel awkward during the first couple of online meetings.

You can also bring it up during the session, so you both can talk about it and find a way to work with it.

Remember that patience and consistency are the tenets of effective therapy. So, keep at it.

5.    Say it as it is

One of the biggest downsides of online therapy is the loss of observational skills. Face-to-face with your therapist, you don’t have to say anything about your inner turmoil. Your body cues speak for you.

On a webcam or telephone, that ability to read non-verbal signals is lost.

To ensure your counselor understands exactly how you’re feeling, you have to say exactly how you’re feeling in specific rather than generic terms.

6.    Be creative

The beauty of teletherapy is the myriads of opportunities it provides for you to be creative with your counseling sessions. Rather than the standard format of couch- or chair-therapy, you can decorate your chosen space with soothing sounds and scents for a more impactful experience

If your pets keep you grounded, you can also cuddle them during counseling and have them say hi to your therapist. It brings a touch of personality and comfort to an otherwise sterile and impersonal setting. You’ll also find it much easier to really talk about your feelings.

7.    Don’t be afraid to give feedback

If you are yet to ‘click’ with your therapist after several online sessions, find the platform difficult to use, or notice your counselor struggles with the platform as well, do not suffer in silence or assume the online-therapy concept just doesn’t work for you.

It is important that you speak up. Tell your therapist when your expectations and needs are not being met. By having an open, honest discussion, you both could come up with ideas to make the sessions more personal and effective. If you can’t, understand that it is okay to part ways.

As mentioned earlier, the choice is always yours. Adjusting to online counseling can take a while. But these 7 tips will guide you on how to make the most of your teletherapy sessions.

Contact New Connections Counseling Center to discuss online counseling!

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Baltimore, MD 21210

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