May 4, 2020 Daniel Olavarria, LCSW

Starting Online Video Therapy During Quarantine

COVID-19 has brought much of the world as we know it to a halt. It’s a jarring new reality that is forcing us to adapt drastically and quickly. While it may feel like your life has been placed on hold, that doesn’t have to be true for your personal growth.

Online video therapy (i.e. teletherapy) is a great option for helping to manage the stress that comes with living through this pandemic and continuing to move forward toward your personal goals.

The great news is that this option doesn’t require you to compromise on quality of care.

Research has consistently shown online video teletherapy to be just as effective as in-person therapy. That’s why teletherapy is not only a perfect fit for this time of quarantine and social distancing, but also a great way to fit therapy into your busy life beyond the pandemic!

In order to get the most out of your teletherapy experience, here are a few important things to keep in mind:

1. When possible, stick with video-conferencing sessions over phone or text messaging.

Body language and facial expressions are important parts of how people communicate. Video sessions allow you and your therapist to pick up on more of these non-verbal cues which can really enhance the effectiveness of your sessions.

Of course, phone calls are better than text-based therapy. However, neither of them matches up to video sessions, nor do they have quite as much research supporting their effectiveness. For these reasons, video sessions are definitely the way to go!

2. Choose a therapist who is well-versed in providing online therapy.

While online video teletherapy has been shown to be just as effective as in-person sessions, they are different experiences with their own respective nuances. The more well-versed your therapist is in conducting online sessions, the more likely you are to have a positive, comfortable, and productive experience in therapy.

3. Make sure you and your home (or wherever you are) are teletherapy-ready.

There are some teletherapy basics to cover before you begin your first session.

As you can imagine, having a strong internet connection is critical! The best option would be to have a corded ethernet connection. If that isn’t possible, strong WiFi or even a dependable wireless signal can work, depending on the software being used. Just make sure that you can depend on your internet connection since the quality of your session will depend on it.

You also want to make sure that you have a private space for your sessions where nobody can hear or see you. This is really important for making sure you’re able to speak freely and for protecting your confidentiality. In addition to being in a closed room, headphones are a great choice to build in some extra privacy.

4. Set the stage for your sessions.

With most of your life happening in your home (and on-screen), it can be really helpful to give yourself some mental cues that it’s therapy time!

This might mean sitting in a certain chair, lighting a dedicated therapy-only scented candle, or holding on to a particular throw pillow or blanket. While they may not sound like much, all of these strategies give you a way to mentally detach from the rest of your life in the same way that you would in a therapy office. This will make for a more rewarding teletherapy experience.

With so much uncertainty in the world, it’s easy to feel that life is at a standstill. Fortunately, online video teletherapy is a great way to keep yourself moving forward.

Daniel Olavarria, LCSW

Daniel is a licensed therapist who works with adults and couples in his private practice, The City Psychotherapy. Based in New York City, he regularly presents on issues related to mental health and diversity across the country.

In addition to writing on health, relationships, pursuing passions, and work-life balance, Daniel is also a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and an emerging coffee aficionado. He lives with his husband in Manhattan.