The coronavirus pandemic has made a lot of things take a different form in the last few months as the world constantly adjusts to the new systems introduced. Online therapy has always been available but since the pandemic started and the social distancing rules were introduced, more therapy sessions were moved online.
Before now, many people already had reservations about online therapy and how effective it is. The most common reason is that therapists are unable to observe their patients closely, which could hinder the effectiveness of the session. But in a 2018 study published in the Journal of Psychological Disorders, it was found that online cognitive behavioural therapy is ‘effective, acceptable and practical health care,’ and isn’t any different from a face-to-face therapy session.
There are several options for online therapy and the benefits are quite numerous, as it takes away the distance barrier, makes scheduling easier, allows clients to meet from the comfort of home, and in most cases costs less.
If you have concerns about online therapy but do not have a choice due to the lockdown restrictions, here are a few ways to help you make the most of it.
Designate a specific space and time
With online therapy comes flexibility, as you get to choose your preferred space and time. However, it is important that you also make the best of this by choosing a relaxed space and time that you find most comfortable. It might not be effective if you have to do therapy in-between working hours, as you could get distracted. By setting aside a specific time and a space with little to no distraction, you enable yourself to engage fully with the therapy session. So choose the most comfortable and private spot in your home, grab your favourite pillows, and set a time when you are able to unplug everything else in life.
Prepare ahead of time
Whether it is an online or an offline session, it is always advisable to prepare ahead of time. This helps ensure that you have an effective meeting with your therapist. You can do this by preparing your questions or concerns that you would like to discuss. You can also reduce your level of stress and relax a bit before it’s time; eat if you have to or take a walk to clear your head a bit. If your therapist provides you with ‘homework’ during your last session, make sure you’ve done it.
Embrace the unique aspects
Online therapy allows some form of flexibility that you can use to your advantage. For example, you could have your pet with you if it eases the tension and makes you feel better. You could also share articles that resonate well with you with your therapist so that you can discuss them some other time. Many platforms also allow you to engage in ongoing chats throughout the week. This feature is a valuable one that can help you communicate your feeling and issues in real time, even if the therapist only responds a few hours later.
If this is your first time doing online therapy, it might be awkward at first but with time, you will ease into it. It might take a while but it will be worth it eventually. Be patient with yourself and gradually see how best you can make the situation work for you.
Due to the pandemic, more people now have increased levels of fear, anxiety, and stress, and as a result, need therapy. However, the only viable option here is online therapy and these tips can help you make the most of it.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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