While telehealth counseling has been around for a while, until the recent Covid-19 health crisis, telehealth options weren’t as widely known.
With most of us mandated to spend the majority of time at home, perhaps also trying to homeschool children while working virtually – tensions and stress are running high. Even though counseling offices remain open as an essential business, many people aren’t sure if they want to leave their home, or have new challenges with child care and can’t get to their appointments.
Now more than ever, we want to make sure you get counseling when you need it most.
While it may take some getting used to, a telehealth counseling session isn’t very different than a counseling session in an office. After your first session you may even find yourself more relaxed by sitting on your own couch.
Generally speaking, once you book an appointment your provider will send a secure link or a login with instructions. The only equipment needed is a device with a camera and microphone such as a computer, tablet or even a smartphone. If you are used to FaceTime, Skype or attend virtual meetings at work, you are likely already used to the technology and more comfortable on camera. But even if you are new to on-camera or virtual meetings you will be a pro before you know it.
Below we offer a few tips that can help anyone get the most out of telehealth counseling.
Finding A Quiet Space
For clients new to telehealth a common concern is wondering if their family in the next room will hear the conversation or they worry about common distractions. What if their toddler interrupts or what happens if UPS truck sends the dog into a barking frenzy, for example.
While interruptions might happen we want to assure you it is OK. But if you are still concerned, get creative with where you log in for your session. If you don’t have to take care of young children, try sitting in the car, in your back yard, or even walk around the block.
For those who really can’t get away from young children try setting them up outside in the sandbox or with some sidewalk chalk or their favorite Disney+ movie – any activity that will likely keep them busy. And if you need to pause to refill a sippy cup don’t sweat it.
Choose Your Device Wisely
We suggest not using a desktop computer unless you have to, or just really want to. Using a laptop, tablet or phone means you can get up and move to a different location during your session. Something much harder to do with a laptop.
Also consider using a headset or earbuds. This will ensure others in your household can’t hear what your counselor is saying, but it also allows you some freedom to walk around and not be tied down to a device (making it easier to refill the sippy cup or escape the barking dog if you need to).
Practice With Your Camera Ahead Of Time
If you aren’t used to being on camera it is a good idea to practice ahead of time with the device you plan to use, and ideally where your plan to sit during your session. Check the lighting, is it too dark or is the sun coming through the window making it hard to see you?
Don’t Focus On What You Look Like
Most adults we know don’t love the way they look on camera. It isn’t uncommon to spend more time analyzing your appearance than participating in the conversation. In most telehealth platforms you can hide the view of yourself or minimize it to focus on the counselor other than your appearance.
If you are considering telehealth counseling, we hope these tips will help familiarize you with the process and what to expect. Don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or even to share your own tips that could help others.