If you’re feeling anxious and hypervigilant, numb and depressed, or just plain stressed these days, you may be considering virtual therapy, or what is formally known as telehealth counseling services. Although talking to someone other than your partner, kids, or your dog may seem like a breath of fresh air after three weeks of the stay-at-home order due to COVID-19, you may still be skeptical about beginning virtual therapy sessions and wondering how it all works. My hope is to ease your worries and provide some information that will help you get the help and support you’re needing right now.
In many ways, beginning virtual counseling is similar to beginning in-person counseling sessions. You’ll still need to fill out the necessary intake paperwork prior to your appointment. Then, you will spend time in your first session discussing the concern that brought you to counseling, establishing treatment goals, getting to know your therapist, and them getting to know you. Subsequent sessions will be spent working towards achieving your treatment goals in order to help you move towards healing. Overall, anything that can be done in an in-person session can be done during a virtual counseling session; even EMDR.
While it may seem daunting to talk to a therapist you just met in person, it may seem even more strange to build a relationship with a therapist who isn’t in the same room with you. Keep in mind, the same rules apply if you’re “therapist shopping” for an in-person therapist or for a virtual counselor. In order to pick the right therapist for you, you’ll want to find a therapist who feels genuine, is easy to talk to, is knowledgeable about treating the specific issue you’re bringing to therapy, and who feels like they would be a good fit. (See this blog post for more information on choosing the right therapist.) Although face to face counseling can be invaluable, building a trusting relationship with your counselor is still one of the most important predictors of your success in therapy, regardless if the counseling takes place in-person or online. (Check out this blog post too!)
In addition to the convenience of being able to meet with your counselor from almost anywhere, another advantage to participating in telehealth therapy is that no one will see you walking into a counseling center. You don’t have to worry about seeing someone you know in the parking lot or in the waiting room prior to your appointment. Some people may wonder though, “Are virtual counseling sessions really secure and private?” At Inner Harmony Counseling, I use a HIPAA compliant video platform called Telehealth by SimplePractice so you can rest assured that your privacy is protected. Telehealth by SimplePractice is easily accessible from a laptop, PC, tablet, iPad, or smartphone. A quiet, private, well-lit room is best and I typically recommend that my clients use a pair of headphones or earbuds for an additional layer of privacy.
If you’re interested in beginning virtual therapy sessions, feel free to call me at 440-630-0126 or email me at [email protected].
At this time in our history when emotions are running high, stress is abound, and new adjustments and learning curves seem to be around every corner, I hope you find the strength and courage to reach out in order to find the support that you need from the comfort of your home.
May you and your family stay healthy and well!
You made a good point that getting telehealth services for anxiety will have the added benefit of not having to go into a counselor’s office. A friend of mine has this unfortunate situation where in going near a counselor’s office fills her with anxiety because she hasn’t fully accepted yet that getting professional help is not a sign of weakness. Maybe by getting remote therapy sessions, she can have a a better pace at dealing with her anxiety.
Hi Alice, I’m glad you found this blog post helpful. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!