Sometimes hearing information from a therapist’s point of view can help put things into perspective, and so the following pointers have been collected from the expertise of a licensed mental health professional. Implementing these ideas can help you work towards a level of online counseling that consistently maximizes your resources and efficiency, as well as prioritizes your client's health.
Make sure that you are sitting somewhere comfortable and undisturbed
It’s always important to be comfortable in your surroundings, as this will translate to the clients that you see. Ideally, it is always recommended to stick with your therapy room, which presumably, is a light and inviting space. However, we acknowledge that this isn’t always possible, and that if you need to seek an alternative, it should also emphasize a warm and intimate atmosphere. Appearances do matter for online sessions, just as much as in-person.
Be transparent to create a sense of safety and security
Make sure that you are always honest with your clients, as the camera may not capture everything that you’re doing. For instance, if you start a session, it’s best to show the client the room to reassure them that the meeting is confidential and that no one else is in there. Additionally, if you take physical notes, tell your client that you are doing so. Building trust is key within professional relationships, and being transparent is one of the best ways to do so.
Allow ample time for unforeseen technical difficulties
Naturally, when working with technology, you may encounter some technical difficulties. Technology can be a finicky system, and it isn’t infallible 100% of the time. For instance, your platform may not be compatible with the browser you typically use, or some updates may need to be installed in order to function. Regardless, make sure you set up a time to check that all the technology is working to avoid wasting time in your sessions.
Use a platform that is secure and compliant
One of the most important aspects of setting up an online counseling session, is ensuring that you are HIPAA compliant. This means that you have the appropriate security measures and systems in place that significantly reduce the risk of information being hacked or leaked. Only authorized users should have access to relevant information, and virus safeguards should be in place to constantly protect client data. Failure to do so could result in significant legal repercussions, which affect your billing processes.
Make sure you are not disturbed at all times
Your client deserves your full attention, especially when it comes to the discussion of sensitive issues. As a result, you need to make sure that you are on do not disturb mode, and that you aren’t easily distracted by your environment.