Online Therapy: What You Need to Know Before Your First Session

So, you’ve just made your first online therapy appointment? This is a great step towards prioritizing your mental health, even in times when it’s difficult to see a therapist in person.

While that gives you a good feeling, you may also have questions.

Even if you have participated in therapy in the past, how will online therapy work? The answer is that it’s very much the same as when you would go to a therapist’s office. You will still get the support you need to address your mental health concerns. Except now, it’s more convenient than before.

If you are about to engage in online therapy for the first time, here’s what you need to know before your first session.

First and Foremost…Relax!

When getting started with online therapy, it’s helpful to take a deep breath and relax. Online therapy isn’t as complicated as it might appear to be. It does require some basic understanding of computers and navigating a software program. But that doesn’t mean you have to be a technology whiz to access online therapy.

However, if using computers just isn’t in your comfort zone, ask for help. Start with the therapist and ask if they can provide a step-by-step guide for accessing their platform. If you know how to turn on a computer, this will be enough to get you started.

Don’t Forget to Look Ahead at the Screen

This might sound like common sense, but that’s not always the case. When you log into your session for the first time, you will see not just the image of the therapist on the screen, but also your own. Of course, that can be distracting, and your eyes will want to drift down to your image. After all, you want to have an idea of what you look like online!

However, with time, you will get used to seeing that image of yourself and notice it less. Just make sure that you look ahead at the main image on the screen and keep the video camera within eyesight.

Keeping Your Information Confidential

It’s important that your information is confidential and that an online therapy platform maintains the highest standard. Platforms such as VSee are designed to be HIPAA compliant. That means that there are safeguards in place to protect your conversation so that your session is not hacked by an outsider.

Other popular online video streaming services don’t usually meet this higher standard. That’s because they are meant for casual conversations, not the protected dialogue of a private therapy session.

Be Ready for Therapy

Just like with attending a therapy session in real-life, the basics of going to an appointment still apply.

For example:

Why Online Therapy vs Phone Calls?

You might be thinking why couldn’t you and your therapist have these discussions over the phone? Although phone calls and even text messaging are convenient, they are not the most effective ways of facilitating therapy. Why?

A big part of the counseling experience is seeing one another and reading body language. This is helpful for the therapist when picking up on cues that might be missed in a phone call. Also, you get the benefit of knowing that you are understood. A smile and a nod from your therapist go a long way to feeling comforted and heard.

These are not trivial matters. Rather, they are the little connections that help with forging a therapeutic relationship between the two of you.

Thanks to technology, the therapeutic experience can reach you in the comfort of your own home these days. If you’d like to learn more about online therapy and how it can help you, please reach out to us, 256-686-9195.

Author
Joshua Howell, MS, LPC, NCC, AADC, ICAADC, SAP, SAE

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