What is online therapy? Online therapy, also known as telehealth, is the delivery of therapy via the Internet. This means that you and your therapist arrange for a session by video where you will be able to see and hear each other. Some video software allows clients and therapists to share websites and resources during session and may also provide a whiteboard for clients to draw or sketch, which is a common therapeutic tool used in therapy. Usually, you can choose to use either your laptop, desktop, or cell phone to participate in online therapy.
Is online therapy confidential and safe? Just like face-to-face therapy, all therapists are professionally committed to protecting your confidentiality as much as humanly possible. When the appropriate software is used, online therapy is JUST as effective at protecting your confidentiality and maintaining the safety of your personal information as face-to-face sessions. I use a Zoom-based software called Secure Video, which is designed specifically for therapists and health care workers. This software is HIPAA-compliant and has additional safeguards to protect your confidentiality.
Disclaimer: Please remember that it is not a perfect world, and although therapists are dedicated to protecting your confidentiality, breeches may happen both in-person and online that are unavoidable. When we have our first appointment together, we will start out by discussing this in much more detail, making sure all of your questions are answered before proceeding.
How do I set up an appointment for an online therapy session? You may contact me just like you would for a face-to-face session: via phone or email. We can still schedule a free 20-minute consultation over the phone. If you verbally consent to a video session, we will move forward and schedule a day and time, just like an in-person appointment. I will send you a link via email or text that will give you access to the video session around the time it is scheduled for. It is very easy!
How should I prepare for a video session? Here are a few suggestions for preparing for a video session:
Find a private, quiet space where you will not be disturbed. This may be a room in your home or apartment, or it may be your car, or a private place outdoors.
"Schedule in" your family to cover things for you so that you are not interrupted. If you have family in the same place you will be doing video therapy, and it is safe for you to tell them you are engaged in therapy, have them agree ahead of time to grant you privacy. Establish a plan for childcare if you can, and have family members manage any unexpected to-do's so that you can be undisturbed for your 50-55 minutes of therapy.
Make sure your computer or phone has a working camera and microphone. You may also wish to use headphones and/or a wireless microphone. Some people claim this improves sound quality. If you check in early to a video session, you may have the option of testing out your camera and microphone before session starts to ensure everything is working properly.
What if our connection is bad? If our connection is bad via video, we can decide to continue our session on the phone.
Online therapy sounds dreadful. I prefer in-person meetings! I agree that in-person meetings offer the best way to connect with each other. However, when that is not a viable option, online sessions can actually be quite enjoyable and sometimes even become some clients' preferred choice! It might take a moment for us to get into rhythm with each other on video, but once we do, you may find that it is surprisingly comfortable for you to deepen into your feelings, thoughts, and insights.
For more tips on how to get the most out of your online therapy sessions, check out my blog entry on this very topic:
Building a Ritual to Get the Most Out of Online Therapy