What to Expect During an Online Counseling Session

Are you considering online counseling?

Online counseling is a great option for anyone looking for therapy services. It has gained popularity in the last year, but telehealth has lots of benefits not just during a pandemic, but all of the time! Oftentimes people ask if in person or online therapy is better, but the truth is there is no one answer. It’s been studied and shown that online therapy can be just as effective as in person therapy.

Just like there are things you can’t get from online therapy that you can get in person, the reverse is also true. What might appeal to someone about in-person therapy might be why another person finds online therapy to be the more effective choice. Neither one is better than the other; they offer different strengths!

For online therapy, these strengths include things like:

Allowing you a gentle transition into something new:

With telehealth, you’ll be beginning therapy in an environment you already know and feel safe in! It’s your own space, so you can make it feel as comfortable and safe as you want, without having to worry about altering someone else’s space. And, with it being right in your home, you’re able to access care you need, even when your mental or physical health prevent you from being able to leave the house.

Increasing your access to care:

When seeking telemental health services, you can seek out a larger scope of therapists. Who you choose to see doesn’t have to be limited to who has a location in your town! It’s also easier to make an appointment when you don’t have to worry about a commute–you can just fit it into your schedule with just the time needed for the appointment (though extra time for rest and transition are always encouraged!)

What to expect during online counseling if you’ve only tried in-person therapy:

It will feel different!

This is a good opportunity to see how well you’re able to sit with discomfort. Anything new takes an adjustment period, and if you’re only used to in person therapy, this will be a change that you’ll need to get used to. That doesn’t mean it’s worse or not as effective, so don’t be discouraged! There was probably a time when in person therapy also felt uncomfortable to you. Try to sit with your discomfort, and bring up any issues you feel you’re having with the new style with your therapist.

You may have to update things about how you communicate.

Consider:

  • Does your therapist read your body language a lot?
  • Do you discuss breaths you’re holding in, how you’re fidgeting, clenching hands, etc.?

Body language is a large part of how we communicate, and if that finds its way into your sessions, you will have to find new ways to allow for that sort of communication. Can you ask your therapist to help you find new ways to share your body language with them? They could check in with you, or you could start and end sessions discussing body sensations, whatever you agree is best for you. This sort of intentional checking in with your body language can help you develop the habit of checking in with yourself, strengthening your awareness of yourself and your needs.

What to expect during online counseling if this is your first time trying therapy:

That uncomfortable feeling you might be experiencing is normal!

It might feel odd or unpleasant to feel that discomfort in your own home or private space–especially since places like our homes or our bedrooms are typically safe places for us. But that discomfort you’re feeling doesn’t necessarily mean telehealth (or therapy) is the wrong choice for you. It just means you’re doing something new and vulnerable! You can take advantage of the fact that you’re in your own space and make it as comfortable for yourself as possible by doing things like lighting a candle, getting a warm beverage, warming yourself with a blanket, etc.

Jumping right into why you want support is normal:

It feels jarring for most of us to dive right into what we feel most vulnerable or uneasy about, and that’s often what compels us to seek therapy. But in order to provide you support that best serves you, it’s important to make the most of the limited time you have with your therapist–fifty minutes really is not that long! You’re of course allowed to go at your own pace–you never have to share anything you don’t want to. But the first session is often a discussion of what brings you into the therapist’s office to help figure out the best course of action moving forward. You can read more about what sort of things are covered in your first therapy session here.

There might be some “awkward” silences:

And they might feel a little more awkward if you’re meeting via telehealth! In general, it is just a little bit harder to read people at first on telehealth, so silences are not quite as easy to read as they are in person.  Your therapist might not be able to see the rest of your body language to recognize what you might be feeling in that silence, so they may ask you to explore what you’re thinking in that silence or to describe how you’re feeling. It’s normal for your therapist to stay quiet and wait for you to guide where the session will go, too.  They will help guide it when you need support in that, but often you just need a bit of patience (and a stern gaze) to get you to open up about what you’re really thinking about

Other things to note when beginning online therapy:

Consider your privacy:

Does your door have a lock? Is it nearby others? Can you get a white noise machine and set it just outside your door for the duration of your session?

In in-person therapy, the soundproofing is something you don’t have to consider, as it’s already taken care of for you. Since telehealth is done in your own home, you need to make sure you feel comfortably private before beginning the session.

Eliminate extraneous internet usage:

You likely have experience with this–anyone who has used Zoom or Skype or Google Meet can tell you that video chatting often slows the rest of your computer and internet usage way down. If you’re able to work it out beforehand with anyone you live with that they limit their internet usage to only what is necessary during your session, that can help your call run smoothly without breaks in connection or lagging audio/mismatched video.

Interested in therapy? We offer both online and in-person therapy at our Houston office. Our professional and dedicated therapists and counselors are waiting to help you. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment for online counseling services if you think we can help.

Contact us at (832) 413-2410, or you can book an appointment online or schedule an online counseling session.

Asma Rehman
No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Call Now