In the age of COVID-19, mental health is more important than ever. This is especially important when news coverage of the novel coronavirus dominates headlines every single day—particularly since much remains unknown about the ongoing pandemic, which can be anxiety-inducing for many (Hill, 2020). Reports indicate that the pandemic is taking a toll on people’s mental well-being (Ellison, 2020). However, social distancing measures have required counselling therapists to transition from therapy at their office to online services, if they haven’t already (Federico, 2020).
Considering how important it is to keep yourself and others healthy in these times, moving client appointments online is your safest option in order to keep your practice running during the pandemic (Federico, 2020). Here’s what counselling therapists need to know about moving their practice online during COVID-19.
First, Take Steps to Reassure Your Clients You Will Support Them
Before you think about how to fully migrate your services to an online setting, make sure your clients are reassured that you will be there to support them and continue providing them with your services, even if the nature of such services will look different for the foreseeable future. Outside of your sessions with clients, you can post to your social media accounts, the blog of your website, or other methods of online communication to inform them that your practice will still be active during the crisis (Hill, 2020). Make sure the lines of communication remain open between you and your clients, even if you have to do so electronically. The most important aspect of this transition is that you are able to let them know you will help them whenever necessary (Hill, 2020).
During therapy sessions, it is the responsibility of the counselling therapist to be transparent with clients about the transition to online services, even if it is a change they are fully expecting. Give them resources to help them more easily understand what remote therapy is, if they are anxious about it. (Federico, 2020). Above all things, remind all clients that you remain dedicated to helping them, and showing that you still want to give them the care and attention they need despite the change from in-person to online therapy sessions (Federico, 2020).
How a Counselling Therapist Can Move Their Practice Online
Given how the ongoing pandemic has led to the majority of people quarantining in their homes, it is easy for clients to feel scared and anxious. Thus, moving your private practice from an in-person office to a teletherapy setting allows clients to continue receiving therapy from you from their homes, especially when they do not feel safe leaving home to visit you at this time (Hill, 2020).
The first steps you will want to take are to organize your workspace so that it is professional-looking when seen by the client. Close all doors and windows in the room you operate from, remove any possible distractions, and make sure enough light is present so your client can clearly see you (Federico, 2020). You’ll also want to make sure your virtual therapy sessions have the correct technology in place on your computer, and that your online practice is legally compliant (Federico, 2020).
Another benefit of teletherapy after your counsellor therapist training is that you can serve clients who don’t live in a close enough proximity to visit your office in person, or are not physically able-bodied enough to travel there (Hill, 2020). For the therapist, it offers the comfort of providing your services without needing to commute to a separate location (Ellison, 2020). To offer virtual therapy services can not only help you continue working during the crisis, but to also help your clients more easily navigate through their feelings of distress during these unprecedented times (Federico, 2020).
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Ellison, K. (2020, April 7). In the era of COVID-19, therapy moves online. Retrieved from https://www.berkeleyside.com/2020/04/07/in-the-era-of-covid-19-therapy-in-berkeley-moves-online
Federico, L. (2020, May 8). Coronavirus and Therapy: 9 Steps To Transition To Remote Sessions. Retrieved from https://blog.zencare.co/remote-therapy-coronavirus/
Hill, K. (2020, April 16). COVID-19 and Your Therapy Practice. Retrieved from https://www.brightervision.com/covid-19-therapy-practice/