Online therapy (or ‘virtual’ therapy) has become very popular since everyone was catapulted online during the covid-19 pandemic. Even the least tech-savvy of us can now make a Zoom call.
There are so many benefits to online therapy it is definitely here to stay. For example, the convenience of online therapy means you can still be supported by me from the comfort of your own home without travel time. In my perinatal specialty online appointments are particularly helpful when you might also be finding time for fertility treatments, heavily pregnant, recovering from birth, or can’t face the complications of travelling with a baby.
Psychological therapy works well online, even trauma focussed therapy such as EMDR therapy, however it is important to establish a strong sense of safety and connection in online trauma therapy. Here are ten ways you can do this to get the most from your online trauma therapy.
1. Find a safe and private space to speak. Confidentiality is the cornerstone of therapy, you won’t feel as comfortable if there is a chance you can be overheard, even by people who you know and love. Let me know if you are likely to be interrupted so I can help you.
2. Check your internet signal strength in advance – Ideally you would have a signal strong enough to support streaming, for example on Netflix. Connectivity is often improved if you are able to connect to your broadband via an ethernet cable but I know not everyone has one of these lying around!
3. Have your devise charged/plugged in and propping itself up. You won’t want to be holding it for the 50 minute session, and also for EMDR therapy you are likely to need to use your hands for tapping.
4. Make yourself comfortable – sit in a comfortable seat, wear comfortable clothes, bring a warm blanket or an extra sweater, the dog…anything you need to help you feel comforted and comfortable.
5. Make sure I can see you easily – not just your face but ideally also chest and shoulders – as a trauma therapist I’m paying attention to physical signs to help me stay attuned to how you are doing. Avoid sitting with a window behind you which makes it much harder to see you clearly.
6. Use headphones/ear buds if you have them – it really helps help us hear each other clearly and adds to the sense of us being well connected to each other in the session.
7. Self care – bring a box of tissues and a drink.
8. Look away from the screen as much as you need – eye contact over a screen can feel more intense. I find I think best when I look away regularly. You’ll notice me doing this from time-to-time and you might find you need to do the same.
9. Create a grounding basket and bring it to sessions – a grounding basket is a small collection of items you can find around your home which you can use, with my support, to stay present and grounded in the session. Objects which connect you to as many of your senses are best e.g. a scented candle, strong mints, a smooth stone, jangly keys. (You can read more about grounding baskets in this article I wrote.) Many of my clients are pet owners and invite a (calm) dog or cat into the space to calm their nervous system.
10. Leave ten minutes after each session to decompress and reflect – I will always check you feel calm before gently closing down each session (as all good trauma therapists should!) but it can also help to go for a walk for a few minutes after the session, or use some of the tools you have learnt to calm your nervous system such as grounding, breathing or imagery-based exercises.
There’s really nothing more to it! I hope this gives you the confidence to approach your online therapy sessions feeling relaxed and confident.
If you are struggling after trauma and would like specialist trauma focussed therapy contact me and I will help you every step of the way.
Miriam ~ Helping you have Better Beginnings