Living with a mental health condition can be very taxing. Without help, it may compromise your ability to even carry out simple day-to-day activities like taking care of yourself or your children, paying attention at work or school. It may negatively impact your relationships and your ability to have meaningful communication with people around you. The pervasive unhappiness creeps stealthily over time, steals your zeal, life and sometimes even pushes you towards suicide.
Although the prevalence of mental health concerns is nearly 20% in the general American population, and nearly 1 in 25 American adults live with a serious mental health condition, only 40% of the people struggling with mental health issues go on to seek professional help.
Various factors including the stigma around the concept of seeking help, denial, lack of awareness regarding one’s condition, physical unavailability of a trained professional, and a recent addition to the long list- the covid scare may attribute largely towards therapy hesitancy. As many aspects of our lives- professional or personal, have moved on to online platforms, know that seeking help regarding your mental health online can be as safe and as effective as a physical consultation. Click here to read more about seeking online therapy from an authentic platform.
During psychotherapy, or simply therapy, people learn to cope with symptoms that may not necessarily respond to treatment immediately. Therefore, although medications can effectively reduce symptoms of the condition, it has been established that the benefits of therapy last longer than medications alone.
Therapy aims at building skills to address and manage symptoms all by yourself. With persistence, your symptoms may continue to improve, decreasing the dependence on continued drug therapy.
If you are apprehensive about your first session, it is normal. Whatever your reason might be for seeking help, knowing what to expect will put you at ease and help you get better results. This article aims to help you understand what to expect from an online therapy session.
1. Informed consent
Any online or physical psychotherapy session requires your clear informed consent. When you give your consent, it means you agree to the treatment prescribed and agree to participate actively. You have been explained about the risks and benefits of the procedure, and fully understand it. Withdrawal or discontinuation of treatment is your discretion, even though it is against medical advice. Feel free to ask your therapist if you have any questions regarding the course of your therapy. Ask your therapist to repeat something you don’t understand. Additionally, your therapist will ask where you are located, as they are only licensed to practice in specific states.
2. Getting Questioned On Personal Matters
One of the first things you will experience in your therapy is getting questioned by your therapist. It is because your session can proceed only after your therapist gets to see through you and understands the elements of your life adding to your trouble. Therefore, be ready to be bombarded with multiple questions.
It will start on a lighter note with you being asked questions about your childhood, your location, hobby, favorite things, social life. Gradually it will take a turn towards the more intense aspects of your life. Make yourself comfortable to share unpleasant instances that put you through a trauma. That will open the door towards your healing journey.
However, to dissolve your apprehension, find a place that lacks a lot of intervention. It will give you a sense of security to talk about confidential information. Find a quiet and lonely place and gather yourself to interact as much as you can with your therapist.
3. A Little Discomfort
Opening up about your most private issues to a complete stranger appearing on your screen can definitely seem awkward at first. That is absolutely normal. The online experience is slightly different from a physical consultation; you are both instantly facing each other, with no room for a customary meet and greet or settling in. Your therapist is aware of your hesitation and awkwardness and will help put you at ease.
An important consideration is that, unlike physical sessions, you will be able to see yourself and the therapist on your screen. It’s natural to feel self-conscious. To feel more comfortable and avoid getting self-conscious, simply adjust the view where you can see only the therapist.
4. Technical Glitches
Test and prepare your device prior to joining an online session. Ensure your device is fully charged and keep a charger handy. It is advisable to use a headset or earphones for better sound quality and confidentiality if you are not alone in the house. A laptop or desktop computer is more practical than a phone or a tablet, as you do not have to hold the device and tire your hands, additionally, they have better video/audio resolution.
Despite all our best efforts, technical glitches are unavoidable. During a therapy session, they can interrupt your flow and get frustrating. Stay calm and remind yourself to take deep breaths. These challenges are expected in an online session and no one is to blame. Close down other programs or apps, check your internet connection, re-launch the app. As a last resort, you may decide to have a phone session. Together, you and your therapist can figure out a way to circumvent the technical challenges.
During your sessions, choose a room or space that gives you maximum privacy. Choose a time when there are fewer people at home, or if a private space is not available, be creative- you could sit in your car, or your garden. Use earbuds or headphones for privacy and better sound quality. During your sessions, for a sense of added security, it is recommended that you turn off smart devices, like Alexa, that could be “listening” even when not in use.
Be sure to minimize all distractions. Let your family know that you have an appointment that requires your full attention and would not like to be disturbed. If none of them work, your therapist will help you if you are having trouble finding a confidential space. Consider non-traditional locations like parks, or even Starbucks. Although not ideal, we have to be flexible during these times; so offer yourself some compassion and be creative, while protecting your confidentiality.
Lastly, give yourself adequate time to reflect on the session and allow yourself some quiet time before transitioning into your day-to-day routine as there is no opportunity for a physical transition during an online session. Remember that this time is exclusively for you. Therefore, leverage the most of it and give yourself time to let the insights from the conversation with your therapist sink in.
We hope this article succeeded in alleviating some of your anxiety associated with an online or teletherapy session. Seeking timely professional help can go a long way in enhancing your quality of life.