Baby Steps

Did you know that 4 in 5 Americans’ mental health has been impacted by COVID-19? That is 80% of the population! Since there is a strong connection to physical and mental health, it is important to take care of both. Now is a great time to take charge of your mental health.

Mother’s Day, When Grief Gets in the Way

Mother’s Day is a celebration of mothers and motherhood. I recognize that Mother’s Day can bring mixed emotions to both children and mothers impacted by social distancing and other challenging circumstances related to trauma, grief and loss.

Loneliness and Quarantine

It’s day *what feels like* 598762 of quarantine and I haven’t talked to a single, other adult in eons. It’s time. Desperation has set in. If I stare at my phone for one more minute and don’t talk to another person I might as well just adopt that cute puppy instead…

Comforts of Home for College Students

While moving back home after college is quite common, estimated at 50% a majority of parents welcome their children back home and many parents and young adults have found living together at this time to be mutually beneficial in many ways.

Dating During Distancing

Our culture tends to struggle with instant gratification (SWIPE), wanting our needs met immediately or relying on a partner for our own happiness or fulfillment of sexual needs and fantasies. Relationship issues are a very common presenting concern in therapy and dating is often included as a significant source of stress.

The Graduating Class of 2020

Group traditions with high school graduation pose quite a dilemma in the time of social distancing. So how can students make meaning of all the uncertainty as they journey into a new chapter in their lives?

Acknowledging Your Anxiety

I’ve been talking with my clients a lot recently about how to manage anxiety and stress. We’re all experiencing probably a higher level of anxiety than what we’re used to. Some people have a lot of skills for managing that and some of us don’t

Creating Social Connections through Quarantine

Our need for human connection is so powerful that it is essential to our physical and mental well-being.

How to Transition From In-Person to Online Therapy During Coronavirus

To help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends social distancing. This means that individuals are encouraged to limit unnecessary social contact.

In response, many people are changing the way they conduct business—including therapists. Meeting with a therapist might place both you and the therapist at a higher risk of catching (and spreading) the virus. In addition, any other staff members or patients you come in contact with in the waiting room may also increase the risk that the virus will be spread.

To reduce in-person contact, some therapists are starting to offer online treatment. Whether meeting via video or phone, virtual therapy appointments aren’t the same as meeting face-to-face, so it’s important to educate yourself about what to expect and how it may impact your treatment.

Differences Between In-Person and Online Treatment

There are some big differences between online therapy and face-to-face therapy. And while online treatment can be convenient for some people—especially during the coronavirus pandemic—it does have some potential drawbacks.

Keeping the Same Therapist

If you’re already attending therapy, you may want to ask your therapist about any virtual treatment options if you’re concerned about social distancing. Your therapist, of course, may bring it up first as well.

But before agreeing to do it, it’s important to consider how your treatment may change if you aren’t meeting face-to-face.

Ask how your therapist will be providing treatment. Will you speak over the phone? Can you communicate via video chat? Can you send emails or messages?

Have a conversation about any concerns you may have. Discuss what you’ll do if you run into any obstacles while trying to conduct online therapy. You may encounter practical problems, like technical glitches, or you may discover that either your progress slows or your appointments don’t seem to be as effective.

Having a candid discussion about the obstacles you might encounter as well as how you can address issues if they arise can be very helpful. When you have a plan in place, you’ll feel more confident about your ability to make the best of online therapy.

Remember, there’s always a chance you might even like online or phone therapy better than face-to-face therapy.

After all, you’ll spend less time commuting to appointments. Your therapist may also offer more flexible hours. And you may even find that it’s easier to be more forthcoming with information when not in the same room as your therapist.

Body Language

Another factor to consider if you’re going to meet online is your body language. During face-to-face treatment, you and your therapist can read one another’s body language.

This is much tougher to do during video chats, and it’s impossible to do if you’re talking over the phone. You might find it’s difficult to know how your therapist is responding if you can’t see their body language or facial gestures.

On the flipside, your therapist won’t be able to read your body language either. When you say that you’re doing “fine,” do you really mean fine? Perhaps your body language says something different. Without being in the same room, your therapist may be more likely to miss vital visual clues about your emotional state.

Not all Types of Therapy Work Well Online

Many forms of talk therapy can work over the phone, via email, or video chat. But some types of treatment just aren’t made for virtual sessions.

Sand tray therapy and EMDR, for example, may be challenging to do virtually. So you’ll want to talk to your therapist about the type of treatment you’re receiving and whether it will still work online or over the phone.

Getting a New Therapist

Not all therapists are equipped to offer virtual appointments. Some of them may be uncomfortable conducting phone therapy. Others may not have the means to provide secure, confidential email or video chat services.

If your therapist isn’t able to provide virtual treatment, you might decide to seek treatment with a new therapist. It can be helpful to talk to your in-person therapist about this.

Ask your therapist if they think you’re a good candidate for online therapy. Individuals with serious mental illnesses or people with suicidal ideation, for example, are typically not good candidates for online therapy.

Your therapist can help you decide if virtual treatment is right for you. Discuss any mental health diagnoses or pertinent information that you’d want to share in online therapy. And review how you can continue to make progress with a new therapist while using a new form of treatment.

Do a little research to learn about the different online therapy options. Consider what type of communication you might want to use—video chats, text messaging, or phone calls. Explore prices and various online options so you can make an informed decision about which online service you think will best meet your needs.

Questions to Ask Your Therapist Before Beginning Treatment

Before you transition to online therapy, it’s important to ask questions about your treatment. Here are some things you may want to address:

  1. How will I sign the paperwork? Does your therapist have a way for you to electronically sign forms, like treatment plans or consent forms?
  2. How is my information kept confidential? Any video chat service or email messaging service you use must meet specific regulations to ensure that your information is kept safe and confidential.
  3. Does my insurance cover this? Most insurance companies do not cover online treatment. So you’ll want to ask your therapist whether they accept insurance. You may also want to contact your insurance company to learn about your options.
  4. How much will it cost? Online therapy typically costs less than in-person treatment. But if you’re transitioning to online therapy with a therapist you’ve been seeing, the price may not necessarily change.
  5. What type of technology do I need? Ask about whether you’ll need to download any apps or software. Also, find out if you can video chat from mobile devices or whether you’ll need a computer.

Coronavirus Related Issues You May Want to Address

If you’re meeting with a therapist online because you’re social distancing, you may have coronavirus-related issues to address.

Here are some examples:

  • How can I manage my mental health when I’ve reduced my social contact?
  • What can I do about my anxiety surrounding the coronavirus?
  • Now that I’m spending more time at home, what steps do I need to take to stay as mentally healthy as possible?
  • Are there specific exercises or strategies I can use to build mental strength?
  • How should I talk to my kids about the coronavirus?
  • What can I do about my financial stress during this time?

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