In such a short amount of time so much has changed in our world.  As a result, we are all having to explore new ways of doing things.  Therapy is no different.  Although online therapy has been around for a long time, it has become a mainstream form of therapy practically overnight. So how does online counseling work?

Therapists providing this service should work hard to make it feel very similar to an in-person session.  Part of that involves helping you to feel comfortable in the online platform.  This may be that the therapist is making sure you have a quiet and confidential location for the sessions, or that the therapist is having flexibility to schedule sessions during times when you will have the most privacy or time to yourself.

If you are concerned that it may be awkward to do online therapy, remember that you can let your therapist lead the conversation.  It is not your job to make them comfortable.  If you are feeling anxious, talk about it with your therapist.  Just as is true in person, pauses and silences are okay to have and can often be an important time for reflection.

How to set up for an online therapy session.

As for the technology of doing an online session, there are many platforms available and your therapist will coordinate that.  They will  most likely have done some research to find one that they feel is best suited to their practice and their style of therapy.  They will let you know what you need to do to connect to the video call.  It can be good to make sure you and your therapist have your cell phones available as well, in case the video call drops or there are other technological difficulties.  It is not outside the realm of possibility that this could happen, but if you plan for it in advance, you can fluidly continue on with the session over the phone.

When preparing for your first session in this format,  it can be good to have a few things with you to make yourself comfortable during the session.  You may want to have a warm cup of coffee or tea, a box of Kleenex, and a cozy place to sit.

Can EMDR therapy be done during an online counseling session?

Talk therapy can be great using the online platform, but EMDR therapy can be done this way as well.  The eye movements can be done by tracking your therapist’s hand across the screen, or in some cases, therapists will use a technological aid to provide lights that you can track across the screen.  If you cannot track across the screen with your eyes, your therapist may provide methods for you to tap your shoulders to provide bilateral tapping.  Regardless of the way the bilateral stimulation is administered, EMDR therapy works well in this format, making it possible to resolve trauma through the online counseling session, just as it is possible to work on many other issues such as anxiety, depression, grief and more with all ages.

Don’t be afraid to shift goals

If you have already been doing therapy in person and are finding that you are now needing to switch to an online therapy format due to the coronavirus.  Explore with your therapist what you need at this time. You may have been working on something else in the office but due to the recent events, it is okay to shift goals for the time being. It may look more like stabilization, crisis management, or developing coping skills. Talk to your therapist about this and remember it is their job to help you regroup back to previous goals when things feel more stable.

You may be surprised at how well online counseling works.  Connection is an important part of life, and during a time when so many people feel isolated, this is a great way to continue, or begin, personal growth while still having quality interaction with a professional therapist.