Coronavirus and the role of online therapy

So, here we are... the coronavirus is here and things can feel pretty uncertain for many, if not all of us. What can we do about the situation? How can therapists carry on supporting the client, professionally when either the therapist or the client (or both) may have to self isolate? People won't magically stop feeling anxious, depressed or afraid. In fact, clients will need therapists now more than ever. 

This is something that I have pondered over the last week and I, along with many other therapists, have decided to move our practices online. Online and telephone therapy offers an excellent alternative solution and most therapists are likely to be offering this service. 

So what does this mean for you, the client? How will it feel different? Will it be too difficult? Will you get stuck in a trance if you're with a hypnotherapist online? Will the technology defeat you?

Well, the answers to those questions come down, as always, to the care and professionalism of the therapist. Working online is not new and many therapists have worked successfully online for a long time. What matters is that the therapist takes time to give the client all the information they need, all the reassurance and support they need, both practically and emotionally.

Online therapy guide

If your therapist is beginning to work online then they should be sending you a guide that outlines how the sessions will work, what they will do if the connection is broken and how they would like you to set up before the session.

The more your therapist can guide you, the easier it will be. For example, they might ask you to choose a comfortable chair, turn off your phone ringers, make sure everyone in your home knows that you're not to be disturbed. They should also let you know that even if you are deeply relaxed, with your eyes closed, you will be able to open your eyes and feel completely normal if the therapist goes silent for more than about three or four minutes. They will set up a fail-safe so that if the connection is broken you know that they will call you on your phone to continue the session.

Most importantly of all, before you even start, the therapist will do their utmost to help you feel comfortable and confident. And once the first session has been experienced successfully you might find yourself wondering why you ever trekked out in the rain to the therapist's office in the past!

What will I need for online therapy?

What will you, as a client, need to be able to access online therapy? Well first of all, of course, you need your therapist to offer an online service. I imagine that more and more therapists will be moving online so it's worth asking them if they are happy to work this way.

Secondly, you will need access to the internet. Most people these days have this access, but not all do. Again, it is worth getting in touch and talking with your therapist about the best way forward. There will be a solution.

Thirdly, what sort of device is best to use? You could use your phone and prop it up somewhere so your hands are free. Probably the best way, with a bigger screen, is using a laptop or tablet. Simple things are important, like making sure that your battery is charged well, or maybe you can just be plugged in for the duration of the session? Can you set it up so that the therapist can see your head and shoulders? Part of therapy is the awareness of a client's whole body and its quiet language which tells us so much. If we can only see your face we might miss out on vital clues.

Next, it's important that you are comfortable. Do you have somewhere that is comfortable, but still safe and professional? You don't want to be sitting on a hard dining room chair, but you also don't want to be snuggled up in bed! An easy medium would be good.

Online offers ongoing care and support

Finally, if I am honest, I have to say that this is probably new to more of us than we might imagine. Working online was not something I really thought of doing before the current Coronavirus situation. I enjoy being face-to-face with my clients. But I want to be there for them and I want to be able to continue our work, supporting them into better mental health, in spite of this virus and the lockdown it brings. How fortunate are we that we have the option of online?

Even if it turns out to be not completely your cup of tea, this will be a temporary thing -  a phase in the history of mankind. We can always go back to face-to-face therapy, but online offers ongoing care and much needed support in a time of potential isolation.

As a therapist, I feel that I owe my clients that care and I know that I am not alone.

Why not contact your therapist and ask them if you can arrange an online session with them? Alternatively, if you are looking for a therapist to start working with, use the Hypnotherapy Directory search tool to find a hypnotherapist and ask about online hypnotherapy. 

Hypnotherapy Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Sarah Ariss B.A (Hons) HPD, DipCHyp, NLP MPrac, MNCH, CNHC

Sarah works in private practice as a cognitive hypnotherapist, specialising in working with clients experiencing anxiety and depression. Having studied at the Quest Institute at Regents University in London, Sarah now works from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire as part of a consortium of therapists serving the local area.… Read more

Written by Sarah Ariss B.A (Hons) HPD, DipCHyp, NLP MPrac, MNCH, CNHC

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