Telehealth has become more common than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual therapy that can be done anywhere and at any time has become increasingly desirable to clients of all backgrounds and needs. Understanding how to adapt your regular in-person practice to a telehealth space can help you thrive as you continue to provide the same quality of care to clients.
For clients that have never experienced therapy before, there are several things that you can do, as a mental health professional, to make them feel more comfortable. For example, you might have:
A secretary at the front desk help with intake forms and general information
A calming office equipped with aromatherapy, relaxing objects like pillows, and natural light
White noise machines to protect patient privacy
The ability to be present with your client and read their body language easily
When moving to telehealth sessions, you may find that you feel you have much less control over the environment your client enters into when starting a session with you. Understanding how to prepare for telehealth sessions can be critical to client success.
On their end, they may be in a private room, but there may be others in the background. They may be sitting cross-legged or on the floor. They might have noisy neighbors or dark lighting. While you can help remind your clients that they should treat telehealth sessions like they would in-person sessions, often, clients will have no choice in what environment they are streaming from.
For this reason, it is imperative to ensure that what they see on the other side of the screen is calming, inviting, and welcoming – even if it is just a small snippet of your actual space. If they see a disorganized, dark, or distracting space behind you, they may feel uneasy and have difficulty focusing. On the other hand, if they enter a telehealth session with you and find that your background is relaxing and serene, they may feel more comfortable and ready for the session.
While your in-person office may be filled with sensory items that a client can interact with, like pillows, fidget toys, and calming smells, you will not be able to provide any of these items to your client in telehealth therapy. There is no guarantee that your client will own any of these items or be in a particularly comforting space themselves. Therefore, it is critical for you, as the mental health professional, to think out of the box and create a space that they can see and associate with safety and peace.
One of the best ways to begin customizing your telehealth office is to take some time to turn your camera on and sit where you usually sit for sessions. Take note of several things, like:
What appears in the background?
Is the lighting good here?
Can they see me entirely from where I am sitting?
Are there distracting objects in view on my desk or behind me?
If I take notes, can they see my notebook in plain view?
To start, good lighting is one of the best ways to invite warmth into your space. You may consider investing in a lamp that sits behind you and emits warm, comforting light. Similarly, you can choose to sit in a place filled with natural light for a more calming environment.
Once the lighting is figured out, you can determine whether or not your current seating position is adequate. Sit where the client can see your entire upper half, but not where they can see you writing notes down. This will help them remain focused on your body and facial language and what you are saying rather than what you are writing down.
After this, determine what you would like in the background. You might conclude that a minimal background is best, with blank walls and one decoration or two, or you might decide that you prefer placing objects of meaning to you in the background. This can help your clients know who you are and what you value.
Although you are crafting this space with your clients in mind, crafting your telehealth office space around what brings you joy and peace will serve to bring positive energy into your telehealth sessions. If you create a space that makes you unhappy, you may not feel eager to sit down and participate in telehealth sessions, meaning that your clients are getting a lower level of care. By creating an area that makes you and your clients happy, you can ensure that you both feel excited, safe, and comfortable in your virtual session.
Telehealth is a popular alternative to in-person therapy due to its convenience and ease, particularly now. As therapists and clients both learn how to adjust to this new form of providing care, there are several things that a mental health professional can do to ensure that the experience is mutually enjoyable. One of the easiest things you can do to help your clients feel more comfortable in a telehealth session is to customize your telehealth office. Essentially, this means crafting a unique and calming space that your clients will see during their sessions. At SokyaHealth, we understand the importance of providing high-quality teletherapy to clients everywhere. Our telehealth services are available any time and anywhere for convenience and comfort. Our therapists ensure that your telehealth sessions provide feelings of ease and peace. For more information on our telehealth services and how we can help you craft the perfect telehealth space, call us today at (877) 840-6956.