This blog is being written during the time of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, however it is intended to apply to e-counselling at any time. Telephone and virtual counselling are a blessing to many, and many of my clients prefer it. Some benefits include: easier scheduling hours that fit in with your daily activities, no need to commute, and enhanced comfort with sessions in your own home, office or in the community.
Talking to your counsellor from the comfort of your own home can be an immensely comforting endeavour, although there can be pitfalls. Here are some tips to make the most of your counselling session outside of the office.
Whether it is your partner, roommate, children or pets, try to minimize your distractions during session. This includes muting or turning off electronic devices or notifications that might grab your attention and detract from your counselling session. To ensure that your full attention is on your counselling session, don’t try to multitask when doing a counselling session from home. Wearing headphones or earbuds can also help to avoid auditory distractions in your environment. Let others know that you will be unavailable for the hour during your session, and consider planning some time for yourself afterwards before you transition back into your day.
Ultimately, sometimes pets will be present for your counselling session, sometimes deliveries or roommates or children will interrupt, and sometimes your kids might even be around you. Taking precautions to minimize distractions can help you get the most from your telephone or virtual counselling session experience.
A counselling session from home is still a counselling session. It can be helpful to dress in the same attire you would wear for a counselling session. As you might imagine, it can be difficult to engage in the therapeutic process and experience the benefits of counselling while wearing pyjamas and fuzzy slippers and lying in your bed. In my practice, remote sessions are conducted from my home office at a private work station behind a closed door.
It can be helpful to write some notes before your session about topics you want to cover in session. You can also keep a notebook on hand to jot down notes and important highlights from the session. It might be helpful to have your laptop nearby in case your therapist would like to review some worksheets with you, however, hand writing notes is recommended for increasing memory consolidation.
Having a strong internet and/or phone signal will be crucial to your distance counselling session. If your bedroom has a poor signal for example, you might want to conduct your counselling session in an area of the home with a stronger signal. Also, make sure your electronic device's battery is fully charged for your session.
Let Go of Insecurities
It’s totally normal to feel a bit of nerves around appearing on video or talking to your therapist on the telephone. This can actually be a great learning opportunity. If you have any concerns, voice them to your therapist so that you can work through them together. Remember, your therapist is a person too, and they already know and accept you as you are. Having some tissues and a glass of water nearby can also help you to feel more prepared.
In these times, many people will have a houseful of family members or roommates who are self-isolating or on lock-down. Here are some suggestions to practice privacy while attending your telephone or video counselling session:
Stay in your bedroom or other private room in the home and close the door. You can muffle sound by placing a towel along the bottom of the door if there is a small space where light enters, or turn on a white noise machine, tv or radio outside the room to obscure sound for privacy
If you have a kiddo, consider setting them up with some music, a game or a show with personal headphones
Sit in your vehicle (parked!) for your telephone or video session
If a private room is not an option, having your session via telephone might suffice as others will not hear the full conversation
Sometimes you can access private spaces that are open to the public, such as reserving a private study room at the public library or in your school library (this might not apply during COVID-19)
Alternatively, you may choose to have a phone conversation while walking or outside (note that during self-seclusion, being outdoors in the public is not an option)
Unfortunately, for some there is no good solution for privacy and that might be the nature of the situation. It is up to you to decide how comfortable you feel with others potentially overhearing the details of your counselling session. When video is not appropriate, telephone counselling is an option you can try so that half of the conversation is private to your ears only.
Please note: Virtual counselling is not suitable for everyone and depends on the nature of the situation. Contact me to determine if virtual counselling would be a good option for you.