As a client, we may have been used to the idea that therapy and mental health support is meant to happen in person, face to face with your therapist. When faced with a situation such as the Coronavirus, where we have had to adapt practically every part of our lifestyle, this also means changing the way we do our therapy sessions. Conducting therapy sessions over online platforms is not something new, and something that has been ethically practiced by professionals for many years.
It is normal to feel concerned about having your therapy session online, especially if you have never thought about doing it before. I will be sharing some ideas with you on what to keep in mind to help you feel safe and secure, whether it is continuing therapy with your current therapist, or starting therapy with a professional.
1. Secure platform: If you are concerned about safety, and about your data being protected, it is important to make sure your therapist is using a platform that is encrypted, and that is approved as a secure platform for online therapy. There are various of these platforms that are very easy to use.
2. Boundaries: If you are concerned about maintaining certain boundaries with your therapist, it is important to not use platforms such as Facebook, so that the professional boundaries can be maintained. This goes in line with the previous point, there are various safe platforms you can use. On another note, when it comes to boundaries you may wish to have a blank background behind you, in case you want to keep your personal space private.
3. Privacy: It may be a bit difficult to feel like your sessions are private when you are living with others and are unable to relocate elsewhere in the current situation. There are various ways to work around this, including booking appointments in times where there are no other persons in the house, or who are in their own meetings. A simple solution, if you are able to have your own space, is the use of headphones. If this is not possible, and you have no privacy in your home, an alternative is to hold the session in your car. If all options are not suitable for you, you can also opt to make use of online therapy via chat.
Benefits of Online Therapy:
1. Accessibility: The main benefit of Online Therapy is that it is accessible to you even if you are unable for some reason or other, to be present in person, or have limited mobility. Even if after the COVID-19 restrictions are limited and you return back to therapy in person, you can still make use of Online Therapy. Whether you are abroad, or if you are ill and would not like to miss out on your therapy session, Online Therapy gives you that space.
2. Flexibility: When it comes to keeping a work life balance, if it is difficult for you to fit in a session between work, home and other responsibilities, Online Therapy gives you the flexibility to fit in sessions without allocating time to drive, and hassle with parking.
It is important to take care of your mental health. In a difficult time like this, it is especially important to continue with your therapeutic process, or start therapy to help you cope with any stressors and anxiety. While trying something new may cause a little bit of stress until you get the hang of it, we are blessed with living in the era of technology, with easy access to online support.
New guidance for psychological professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic | BPS. (2020). Retrieved 11 April 2020, from https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/new-guidance-psychological-professionals-during-covid-19-pandemic
Guidelines for the practice of telepsychology. (2020). Retrieved 11 April 2020, from https://www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/telepsychology
A growing wave of online therapy. (2020). Retrieved 11 April 2020, fromhttps://www.apa.org/monitor/2017/02/online-therapy
Nicola Falzon is a psychology officer within the Willingness Team, delivering training and workshops on mental health, managing different services such as Sex Clinic Malta, and organising different events. Nicola is also involved in various projects related to sexuality.