I’ll admit it: I was skeptical when the pandemic began and we were all forced to turn to virtual therapy. I didn’t think it would be effective, I thought it would be awkward, and I was convinced that there would be technical glitches every other minute. Now in month nine (or is it 10? Or 47? Who knows.) of conducting therapy virtually, here is why I think it can truly be beneficial, even beyond the pandemic:
- It is still possible to build a strong client-therapist relationship. I have many clients whom I have never seen in-person, but we still have a trusting, open, and authentic relationship that has been created over Zoom. If you’re open to giving it a shot, it will most likely work.
- Clients are just as vulnerable, if not more so, during virtual therapy sessions. For some people, there is a comfort of not being face-to-face with someone in-person, thus making it easier to open up. For others, being at home in a safe space is comfortable and leads to authenticity. Even for clients who are at home with families – parents, siblings, spouses, children – therapy is still that safe space dedicated entirely to them. Some people do sessions in their cars, others use sound machines, but many are open to setting boundaries around privacy with the people they live with, which is amazing to see.
- Scheduling is easier as many people are working or taking classes from home. I have some clients who see me at 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning right before work or school starts, and because they just need to go to a different room instead of commute to an entire other place, they are able to see me when they might not otherwise be able to. Many clients even come to session in their sweats or leggings, just because they can!
- This scheduling piece is also helpful as many parents have children going to school from home. Because they are still at home, they do not necessarily have to find childcare in order to come to therapy. Occasionally, this means meeting some children (and lots of pets too) during sessions, but overall, it seems like the convenience factor outweighs the infrequent interruptions.
- As a clinician that uses Zoom for sessions, I have found the screen-share function particularly helpful. I can share my feeling wheel with clients on the screen, or a blank document for timelines or lists. I can share videos in groups and everyone can see and hear it. In some ways, by already using technology as the platform for sessions, it’s easier to integrate more technology into the content of what we are discussing.
- Virtual therapy has also made collaboration easier. I have conducted family sessions with people in different places or with another professional who is located elsewhere, so more people are able to be involved at once.
If you’ve read this and are still skeptical, I understand. It is difficult to replicate the value of in-person therapy, but, given the circumstances, I would say it is going better than I imagined. While I miss that human connection as much as my clients do, knowing I can still provide adequate care to them and build strong relationships from afar has made the transition worthwhile and rewarding. Feel free to Contact us if you have any questions about how Empowering You can support you with virtual therapy!