Online therapy has been a thing for a long time, but up until the pandemic, you may not have considered it as an option. Now, many states are requiring health insurance companies to cover telemedicine and teletherapy services, because online therapy offers you a chance to get psychological help and emotional guidance without putting yourself or others at risk of contracting COVID-19.
But that’s not the only benefit you can glean from attending therapy online. Online therapy can actually be a better option for many people, because you can expand your access to different treatment modalities, and communicate more in ways that feel more comfortable for you. Here’s what you need to do to make online therapy work for you.
Find a Therapist You Click With
Therapists are people just like everyone else, and you’re just not going to click with everyone. Sure, some therapists are incompetent, but you can also struggle to gel with a therapist just because your personalities clash or they’re choosing treatment methods that don’t resonate with you and don’t seem to help.
To get the most out of your online therapy experience, you need to find a therapist you really click with. That could mean speaking to several different professionals before you find the right one. Don’t be afraid to switch to another provider if you’re not at least starting to feel comfortable enough to really open up within the first three or four sessions.
Decide What Online Format You’re Most Comfortable With
When you think about getting online therapy in Florida, you probably think about doing your session over a video call, in a way that basically reiterates the traditional therapy experience of speaking face-to-face in an office. However, that’s not the only way to do therapy online. You may feel more comfortable engaging with your therapist through a voice call, or communicating via text or instant messaging. Don’t be afraid to ask to switch things up. You can even ask to communicate with your therapist via text or phone in difficult moments, when you need advice and support, or when you need to be held accountable for working towards your goals.
Set Up a Space for Therapy
Honor your need for comfort, peace, and privacy during your therapy session by setting up a consistent space where you can do your therapy each week. In the best case scenario, you’ll select a comfortable place to sit in your own home, where no one will be listening in or interrupting. Have a comfort item, like a stuffed animal or a soft blanket. Brew a mug of your favorite tea or coffee. Grab a bottle of water. Turn the lights down low and light some aromatherapy candles.
Hold space for therapy in your mind, too. Since you won’t have a commute and time in the waiting room to spend mentally going over the things you want to talk about, you will need to carve out this time before each session. Give yourself 15 or 20 minutes to sit down and think about the progress you’ve made toward your goals or any setbacks you’ve experienced. Write down any issues that have come up that you’re struggling with. After your session, take 20 minutes or half an hour to decompress and process any difficult emotions that have come up. Take a walk, sit quietly in your therapy space, or journal before you go on with the rest of your day.
Keep Your Therapy Time Sacred
The hour you spend in therapy each week is crucial and must be respected. Tell your spouse or partner, kids, and housemates that you won’t be accessible during your therapy hour, and make sure they respect that. It helps to book your therapy session at the same time on the same day every week, so those close to you learn when to expect it, and so you don’t accidentally double-book yourself.
Be Flexible When Tech Issues Occur
You’re bound to have problems with your video conferencing app, devices, or internet connection at some point. Always have a backup method of communicating with your therapist so you can push forward when tech issues interrupt a session. Be flexible and patient when problems arise.
Talk to Your Therapist About Your Goals
It’s best to be upfront with your therapist about what you want to get out of therapy from the very first session. If you don’t know what you want to achieve when you begin therapy, or you only have a vague idea, that’s okay — but try to describe your goals to your therapist as clearly and straightforwardly as possible, and then continue to revisit them as therapy progresses and you gain a clearer understanding of what you hope to get out of it.
Online therapy can work for just about anyone — if you’re willing to put in the work. Self-work can be draining, but ultimately, it’s so rewarding that you’ll be glad you invested the time into yourself and your quality of life.