Coronavirus is changing our lifestyle. It certainly has changed mine. During this time, I am limiting my practice to online therapy and telephone therapy.
Work, social gatherings, conferences, concerts and family time are all moving online. While some of the online activities are holding space for activities that are much better in person, some advantages exist to online living. Not only are working from home and seeing doctors online more convenient, they save you time and money. The same holds true for online therapy and counseling.
I was an early adopter of online therapy. I started seeing clients online in January, 2018. Clients love the flexibility. They can meet online at times that they would not be able to make the extra time commitment to travel to and from my office. Couples can schedule sessions on their lunch hour while kids are in school and avoid the need for child care. Clients can also schedule during nap time or when kids are busy with an activity.
Teens and their parents also like online therapy. Parents save the time dropping off and picking up. Teens feel more independent and empowered, because they can set their own schedule with me and not have to rely on their parents to shuttle them around. Teens often feel more comfortable using technology in their own environment rather than sitting in an office.
I also work with clients who suffer from chronic illness. Traveling around to appointments can be difficult for many of them. Having online sessions is a convenient solution that keeps them at home, where they are most comfortable.
Online therapy also takes distance out of the equation. While I live in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California, many of my online clients have been in Southern California.
Online therapy is easy and incredibly flexible. You can schedule by text or email. You log into your HIPPA compliant “room” by just clicking a link that I send to your email. You can use your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can be anywhere with internet access. I see many clients in their cars, either in the parking lot at their work or in the driveway of their home. Teens are usually in their room, at a friend’s house or outside. You can choose wherever you feel most comfortable and secure for confidentiality.
Online therapy is pretty much the same as in person therapy. We talk about the same things. I am required to know your exact location and local numbers for your emergency response system. This is just a safety precaution. The biggest difference is that we only see each other from the shoulders up. It doesn’t take long to adjust to that.
Clients like to introduce me to their pets at some point if they are at home, which is something that doesn’t happen in my office. I might ask questions about the environment that I would already be aware of in my office. There are also technical issues from time to time. The connection can cut out occasionally. When that happens, we usually just pick up where we left off. It’s usually a very short break and no big deal.
Since Covid-19, I have also added phone therapy. Some of my clients do not have access to good internet in rural areas. Phone is more reliable. I call at appointment time and we talk the same way we would in my office.