You’ve done a few Skype therapy sessions and it’s going well. But are you really getting the most out of your sessions?

Back to basics

There are basics of a good online therapy session you probably already know:

  • be on time
  • check all technology is working in advance and is charged
  • ensure you have privacy
  • turn off alerts and close other windows
  • wear comfortable clothes
  • have tissues and water nearby.

But what else you can do to maximise your therapy sessions?

1. Build in 'prep time'.

Being on time for your therapy session is one thing. But being ready for it is even better.

This doesn’t mean knowing exactly what you will say, or feeling calm. It’s natural to be anxious before a session and not know what to talk about.

But it does mean not wasting the first ten minutes of your session getting settled into your chair, or digesting the sandwich you just devoured.

Being at your computer 15 minutes early means you can make some notes if there are things you want to mention. It also means you can settle into your surroundings, practise some stretching, deep breathing, or mindfulness, and be fully present when you press ‘connect’.

2. Upgrade your privacy.

Having a room to yourself for your session is great. But if there are still other people in the house, it can mean you ‘hold back’ on certain issues if you fear being overheard.

Consider talking with your partner to see if your therapy sessions might coincide with them going out for exercise or for shopping. Or see if they will agree to wearing a pair of noise cancelling headphones.

If it’s your children playing in the other room, it might be the one time a week to relax your TV rules and sit them in front of a movie.

3. Frame and light better.

It’s not about vanity, it’s about not being distracted. And if we are even slightly worried about how we look, it occupies a part of our mind.

So it’s worth investing in learning how to frame and light yourself. This means things like:

  • clearing clutter from the background
  • filling the frame, not leaving a huge space above your head
  • not sitting in front of a window, but facing a natural light source
  • or investing in a small and cheap light such as an LED 'ring light'
  • raising your laptop on books or sitting on a pillow to get a better angle/light.

4. Speak up if your therapist needs to reframe.

'Reframe' in therapy speak involves taking a situation and seeing it from a different, more helpful perspective.

But in this case, reframe can also be literal. If your therapist has moved and fallen out of frame, or if they haven’t remembered to turn on a lamp and their face is in shadow? Don’t feel you can’t say something. You are, after all, paying for the experience. Also speak up if their volume needs adjusting.

5. Have a back up internet source.

If you don’t know how to ‘tether’ your mainframe computer or laptop to your phone’s internet, now is the time to learn. This means that if by bad luck your wifi goes down, you can quickly get back to your therapist and finish your session.

6. Don't make it handheld.

Anchor your phone if you must use it. This is a therapy session, not a chat with a friend. Not only will holding your phone in your hand mean your brain is partially distracted by keeping yourself in frame, it’s not fair for a therapist to have to deal with the movement a handheld phone entails.

And where possible, use a larger screen. It’s more intimate, and is particularly helpful if you have trust issues and jump to conclusions that people are judging you. The more clearly you can see your therapist’s face, the more you will see that they are listening, and accepting of you.

7. Put a note on the door.

Deliveries have a way of coming at the most inopportune moment. Get into the habit of putting a note on the door that you are, for example, ‘on a webinar’, asking people to not ring the bell and please leave deliveries in front of the door. Of course this also means developing the habit of removing the note when your session ends!

8. If there is an unexpected issue, be honest.

Doorbell ringing non stop, dog barking, children fighting? Spilled water all over your lap? Or simply need the loo to the extent you can't focus? Be honest with your therapist. It’s better to address the issue then waste most of your session being distracted.

9. Hold onto something.

Speaking of distraction. Are you naturally a ‘mover’? Do you bounce your leg, shift back and forth in you chair, chew your lip, play with your hair?

While these things might not be a big deal for an in-person therapy session, they can be far more obvious over a screen, where you are moving about the limited space of the camera frame.

Consider getting something to fidget with off-screen. A small rock that feels good to hold, a stress ball, something that is quiet (so not most 'fidget spinners') and keeps you ‘fidget brain’ occupied so the rest of you is still.

Not yet in therapy and time to get started? Find your perfect online therapist now and get talking.

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