June 12, 2024
5 Tips for Preparing for Your First Virtual Therapy Session

Virtual therapy sessions are a thing because they can help you get the care you need without having to leave your home. In-person therapy is great, but if you live in a rural area where there aren’t any therapists or don’t want to drive across town every week, this option might be better for you.

Such online counseling also helped many get through their stressful times during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The American Psychological Association reported that during the pandemic, 96 percent of the therapists and psychologists they surveyed said that they were providing their services virtually. This was the period when online counseling saw huge growth.

Virtual therapy sessions also allow for more flexibility than in-person therapy. If you need to cancel your appointment, it’s easier than canceling an in-person session; no one will be out of pocket any money because no one is traveling anywhere to meet up with anyone else.

Virtual therapy sessions are a good choice for people who are shy about meeting new people or feel uncomfortable being vulnerable in front of others. Since these sessions take place over the phone or via video chat instead of in person, they allow you more time to get comfortable before getting into deeper conversations about your issues.

For those of you attending your first virtual therapy session, here are a few tips on how you can prepare for it.

#1 Make Sure Your Mic and Camera are Working

Make sure that your microphone and camera are working before your session.

Headsets with built-in microphones must be plugged in correctly. At the same time, it’s also vital to adjust your mouth or the mic while speaking. These built-in microphones often have trouble picking up your sound.

If you have trouble hearing, check that the volume is turned up on all devices (phone, laptop, tablet, etc.). If you still can’t hear, try turning up the volume on your headphones instead of your device.

Another important element is lighting. Make sure there isn’t too much or too little light in the room for optimal video quality. You don’t want someone to miss out on important details because they couldn’t see them because of poor lighting conditions.

Having your camera on is vital in online therapy sessions. Online therapists need to see your face so that they can read your emotions. Your facial expressions reveal a lot about you, especially when you face difficult questions or recall certain events or experiences. The therapist needs to see those expressions as they give shape to your inner thoughts.

#2 Ensure Stable Internet Connectivity Along with Backup Mobile Internet Plan

In preparing for your first online counseling session, ensuring that you have stable internet connectivity is vital. If you are using a smartphone, your phone’s data plan may be sufficient. However, if you want to use a laptop or desktop computer, it’s highly recommended that you check with your provider to determine what kind of connectivity you will need for your session.

You should also have a backup mobile internet plan in case your primary plan fails. This way, if something goes wrong and your connection drops out, you can still participate in the session and complete it successfully.

#3 Make Sure There is Minimum or No Background Noise

If you’re going to be having a virtual therapy session, it’s important to make sure that there’s no background noise.

Background noise can cause the therapist to have trouble hearing you and vice versa. This could result in either of you missing something important, which could lead to miscommunication and frustration.

If you do have background noise, try turning off appliances or closing doors that might be causing the noise.

#4 Let Your Therapist Know If You’re Having Trouble Listening or Seeing Them

If you’re having trouble hearing or seeing your therapist, let them know right away. It can be embarrassing to admit that you’re struggling with something like that, but it’s important to do so so they can adjust how they communicate with you.

Tell them if they need to move their camera closer to them or ask you to adjust the volume on your microphone. Your therapist wants to help you in any way possible, and if there’s a problem with the way they’re communicating with you, they, too, would want to fix it as quickly as possible.

#5 Don’t Expect All Your Problems to be Solved in the First Session

One of the most common mistakes people make when preparing for their first virtual therapy session is to expect it to be a magical solution to all of their problems.

It’s important to remember that this is just one part of your journey and that it will take time to see results. You will have homework between sessions and be asked to reflect on your experiences afterward. Therefore, don’t be surprised if you feel like there’s more work involved than you initially thought.

It’s important not to get discouraged if things don’t seem like they’re changing right away. It often takes several sessions before any real progress can be made. It’s also possible that online therapy might not be for you, which you can realize through this first session. In that case, don’t hesitate to seek help from a therapist in person.

Earlier in January 2022, Scientific American released an article where it outlined how the pandemic has paved the way for online counseling. Such services have seen a huge boom ever since. Undoubtedly, online counseling is here to stay, and we need to make the most of this opportunity.

A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) suggests that one in five American adults lives with a mental illness. Many of them don’t seek professional help. Online counseling could act as the gateway for them and even you to experience therapy for the first time.