Changing to online Therapy during Covid-19
There are changes happening in so many areas of our lives at the moment, we find ourselves in new territory and for those of us already involved in evolving our therapy, being able to stay connected to supportive networks can feel like an important lifeline.
The buzz in our industry is whether to take work online. Of course, not every client will be in the right place to change to online working but if we take this leap are there hidden benefits for everyone involved?
No matter how tech savvy or tech phobic we are, how much we have practiced and researched, new ways of working will likely feel unsettling. You and your client are doing your best to try to stay connected, embrace the solidarity of this experience.
As therapists we are genuinely keen to make efforts put clients at ease, but don’t be scared if things feel a little strange at first.
Your tech knowledge and online presence has likely expanded exponentially recently, sharing both fails and confidence in use of technology may also have the benefit of increasing confidence in ways for you and your client to communicate separately with friends and loved ones.
When things go wrong with tech, (as they undoubtably will) sharing resilience, adapting and accepting change with clients is a powerful, positive life message.
Different with Distance
Your therapeutic relationship will likely change and embracing this is part of coping with the transition. It may be that your client can find it easier to be more vulnerable online than in a face to face setting as they feel more familiar and relaxed in their home online environment.
This could have marked benefits to deepen the therapeutic relationship and mean that you need to access new support networks to ensure you are both prepared. Usual services are not as available but that doesn’t mean they are abandoned. Check out with local sources, consider expanding your reach
Conversely you and your client may feel the loss of face to face connection, which creates space for shared exploration and further adaptation or separation. How will you prepare to end or suspend and what support is available for you both in any interim?
Therapy in the home environment
Few therapeutic services are set up to work in a client’s home and at this time even these are having to adjust safe work practice. Bringing the relationship into the clients home online creates a new connection, you and their computer are now part of their therapeutic world.
Therapeutic aids such as pets, projects, hobbies can more easily be part of the session too.
Creating a defined time and space to ensure therapeutic contact will remain important, therapeutic distancing from others in the household and ensuring technology agreements are essential to maintaining confidentiality and safety.
Reviewing and recontracting
When is the last time you looked at your contract? Working online obviously means ensuring you have solid additional safeguards in place. The NCS has highlighted many of the specifics in our emergency Covid-19 messages, but are there also ways you can review and update your work with your client too?
With so many uncertainties are being felt at this time, immediacy may take you on a new and unexpected journey with your client.
Fine tuning new skills
With face to face work we have a multitude of accessible signals to read to help us understand our client. When the physical presence is removed, what do we need?
Where we can see each other on the screen, more targeted exploration of verbal and facial markers will be figural for both therapist and client. If we look away for just a second it can impact.
Naming our emotions and reactions more explicitly helps to attune verbal understanding and recognition. Explore extending the vocabulary of words, offering clients new emphasis in describing and communicating feelings remotely.
Let us know how you are coping?
Where ever you are in adapting to the present situation, whether you are making the shift to online or suspending work until you are able to see face to face clients again, there will almost certainly be difficult choices along the way and we are with you.
For access to NCS quality checked course on moving work online:
Please keep in touch with the Society about any innovations, difficulties you have overcome or ideas you have, we will try to reach out to all our membership and share these where we can.
Isolated is not alone.