Chances are, if you used to see your therapist at an office, that office is now closed to help stop the spread of Covid-19. Enter the modern age of virtual therapy! Virtual therapy is a different medium for psychotherapy and comes with unique benefits and challenges. But the accessibility, convenience, and opportunity to continue therapy during unprecedented times cannot be overstated. Here are some things to expect and ways to make virtual therapy easier:
1. Treat your virtual therapy appointment like your in-person appointment. As best you can, set yourself up in a comfortable, and private place with your computer or mobile device. Make sure your device shows a background behind you that you’re comfortable showing your therapist.
2. Talk with your therapist about concerns or barriers with virtual therapy in your first session so that you can resolve those and move back to working on what you normally do in therapy.
3. Make some accommodations for yourself to make virtual therapy easier. Example: if you aren’t comfortable seeing your own image during video sessions, check if there is a feature in the software you’re using that will allow you to “unpin” your own video. Or, if full length sessions feel too long or aren’t possible with privacy concerns, talk to your therapist about shorter sessions.
4. Give yourself a grace period of adjustment. You’re only used to seeing your therapist in person in the same office, you’re not used to video chatting with them! It might take a little time to feel comfortable and that’s okay. You can process any discomfort or hesitation you are feeling with your therapist, don’t feel like you need to hold it back!
5. Be mindful that sometimes with virtual or phone therapy we have fewer inhibitions and may share more or say things that we wouldn’t normally say in person. Let your therapist know if you are starting to move towards a topic you don’t feel comfortable discussing yet and take your time and slow down while answering questions or sharing.
6. Keep boundaries for yourself with virtual therapy (your therapist will also help maintain these). Example: decide on a space to have your appointment and stick to it, remind yourself of things you would and wouldn’t do if you were in the therapy office (you might not stand up and walk around, you may have a glass of water but not wine, etc).
Take care of yourself during this strange and challenging time, and try reaching out to your therapist for virtual sessions if you need!