Telehealth, or seeing your therapist by video chat, is becoming increasingly common – and for good reason! It’s very convenient, often more cost-effective, and research is pretty encouraging about how well it works. But it definitely feels a little…different at first.
If you’re seeing your therapist by telehealth, here’s how to make it work for you.
Bring what you need for your session! You can absolutely have something to drink and snack on if you’d like. Having water, tea, or coffee near will help soothe your throat while you’re talking. And there’s totally a comfort factor in having a warm drink with you. That’s why my office always has tea available!
Try to find privacy
It’s hard to open up to a therapist when you’re just getting started. It’s VERY hard if you’re trying to open up knowing that your roommate could overhear you or your partner might open the bedroom door. Not to mention the fact that well… those are often the people we need to talk about. Try to get as much space as you can for your session, even if it’s in your car.
If you can’t find a private place, try to find a private time. Schedule around others’ work, school, or just when you know they’ll be out. You’ll feel much more comfortable if you know you are actually alone with your therapist.
And if neither of those are an option, email your therapist in advance and let them know. It may be helpful to set up a codeword or phrase, so that the therapist knows you need to change the subject if you’re being overheard.
Not sure if you want to take the leap into therapy? Check out this post and see if it resonates with you.
Embrace tech issues – and know the plan
Tech issues are going to happen with telehealth. Even with solid WiFi and quality platforms, it’s pretty much inevitable. Your therapist should explain what to do if you get disconnected. But if they don’t, and you switch to a new platform, or if you switch devices, speak up so you and your therapist can make a plan! It’s much less awkward and anxiety-provoking if you know what to do ahead of time.
Bring grounding items
I call my collection of grounding items my “mental health kit.” It’s simply a little bag with lots of sensory items inside: a few essential oil rollerballs for scent, gum, and mints for taste, a small nail brush for touch, a little squishy stress ball for touch, headphones to plug into my phone for sound. Everything was either already at home or I got it in the dollar aisle at Target!
Customize your kit however you like. And then, if difficult stuff comes up in therapy (which it will), you have a few quick grounding and coping skills right there.
Ask for shorter sessions if needed
For some people, it’s hard to fill up an hour-long session over telehealth. If that’s the case for you, it’s totally okay to ask for 30-minute sessions instead. Maybe you’d like to check in with your therapist frequently but in shorter bursts. Talk to your therapist about customizing the length and frequency of your sessions to fit your individual needs.
Mood tracking is a simple and helpful way to see how you’re doing between therapy sessions.
Enjoy the comfort
The best part about telehealth is the comfort – enjoy it! Wear your pajamas if you want. Bring a cozy blanket. Let your pet sit with you. Burn some sage or light a candle. Find a comfy spot to sit in. Go outside for your session. Play some gentle background music.
Think about the kinds of simple things that help you cope, and then bring them to therapy! Telehealth lets your therapist and you both customize your “office” to be what you need.
While telehealth may not be what you’re used to, it really can be a great way to meet with a therapist and work on your mental health in your own space. I hope these tips can help you make the best of it!