4 things you can do to prepare for an online counseling session
Especially if you’re familiar with a typical in-office counseling session, online counseling can feel like an entirely new experience. Rather than sitting down for a face-to-face conversation with your licensed counselor or therapist, you are now logging in to a secure, online counseling platform, and having the same conversations from home.
If it’s your first time trying online counseling, we can understand the nerves. We want you to know that the online counselors from Pyramid Online Counseling are all fully licensed to provide online therapy, and they have extensive experience with this specific type of care.
Just like our counselors individually prepare for each new client they see throughout the day, we want our clients to prepare before their sessions begin. This means not only calling to mind the items you’d like to discuss with your counselor, but also setting a comfortable mood and establishing the right frame of mind for an at-ease, productive session.
If you’re looking for suggestions on how you can prepare yourself for a productive online counseling session, we’re here to help. Here are 4 easy ways you can prepare before your online counseling session begins:
1. Find an environment where you feel comfortable.
Obviously, you don’t want to take your online counseling call in a busy coffee shop. However, even in the comfort of your own home it’s important that you create an environment where you can be honest and open with yourself and with your counselor or therapist. If that means finding the comfiest chair or couch in the entire home, take the time to make that happen. If that means playing soft music on a loop, find a radio station or online streaming audio channel that can provide that for you. And if that means preparing a (healthy) snack to ease the pre-counseling nerves, don’t feel guilty in the kitchen. The goal is to eliminate distractions and create an environment where you feel comfortable and free to discuss everything on your mind.
2. Troubleshoot your technology before your online counseling session.
Whenever technology is involved, you can trust that at some point, technical difficulties are likely to arise. To ensure that your computer and your internet connection are both performing correctly, we suggest taking the time to make sure everything is up to par. It’s also a great idea to log into whatever video conferencing platform you’ll be using – ideally a private, online counseling-specific software – to make sure that your video call link, calendar invite and login credentials are all functioning correctly. Better to address any issues beforehand than in the moment.
3. Keep the conversation private.
This sounds like an obvious step: make sure that this conversation stays between you and the counselor or therapist licensed to help you live a better life. And to be sure, we want you to make sure that when it comes time for your online counseling session that you take the time to close any doors and any windows that might betray the privacy of your call.
However, sometimes a busy house can’t be helped. And when there might be other individuals in the home who might inadvertently overhear a sensitive conversation, it’s also important that you take steps to protect both yourself and your counselor. Especially if you’re in a busier location, consider playing white noise from your phone or a noise-making machine. You don’t want to compromise the audio quality of the call, but playing white noise outside of your closed door can help to create a sound barrier. In addition, consider the use of headphones, so that audio is fed directly into your ears instead of into the air through computer speakers.
4. Take the time to identify your emotions.
One of the disadvantages of the online counseling model is the fact that it makes reading body language and non-verbal cues more difficult. Because of this, it benefits both you and your counselor if you take a few minutes before the session begins to grow familiar with your emotions. What are you feeling in the moment – about yourself, about your environment, about online counseling in general?
In the event that something during your online counseling session makes you feel a certain way, don’t be afraid to take a moment and identify that feeling for the benefit of your counselor’s notes. Make “I feel” statements to concretely outline feelings and emotions that surface before, during and after your online counseling session takes place. And don’t be afraid to admit that you’re not sure how you’re feeling in the moment.
Online counseling: making change your own
It’s the goal of your online counselor to help you identify and pursue positive changes in your life. Pyramid Online Counseling offers extensive experience to help you accomplish just that: pursuing and adopting practices in your own life that help you accommodate and overcome behavioral and mental health challenges you might be facing. Our certified counselors have experience in offering therapy online, and are ready to help you thrive despite the distance between you and your service provider.
The first step toward benefitting from any type of counseling – online or in-person – is admitting to yourself that you need the help. And just because you’ve scheduled an online counseling session, doesn’t mean you necessarily believe you’ll benefit from the communication that follows.
Take the time to answer the following questions honestly:
Do I believe I need this help?
Do I believe I can benefit from online counseling?
Do I believe my online counselor can help me become a better person?
Don’t be afraid to discuss the answers to these questions with your counselor at any point during your online counseling session. It’s better to address your concerns with the software platform and the counseling model before the session gets going.