Telehealth as a means of delivering therapy to clients has opened possibilities worldwide. No longer are people constrained to local points of access or confined by the type of therapy they can receive. Telehealth provides care to those in need and is flexible enough to accommodate a client's schedule. Yet, despite the progress in teletherapy, there are still some concerns for clients and therapists.
Before teletherapy became widely available, clients had limited options in receiving mental health care. Those in cities have more therapists, specialized care, and scheduling appointments to meet their needs. In addition, a middle- or upper-class person had another advantage: ease of access.
Clients who live in resource-poor sections of towns or cities have similar issues to those who live in smaller cities or rural areas. However, many are limited because they lack specialized care or a local therapist.
Despite the increase in access to mental health services, there remain a few challenges for clients who want to begin telehealth sessions. A few issues surrounding a client's ability to engage in telehealth may include:
You can't see if it's safe:
The area you can see during a session allows for limited visibility. Because of this, you don't know if your client's partner or another person is monitoring the conversation.
Teletherapy sessions also pose a problem in keeping your client engaged during a session. The availability of phones, tabs, or smartwatches can distract a client. Try to encourage them to put away all forms of communication before starting a session.
Facial and body cues:
Sometimes, it isn't easy to read a client's face or body language in a teletherapy session.
Unfortunately, you won't always hear or understand what a client says. Ask them to talk clearly and in a speaking voice. When they finish speaking, you can clarify what you heard.
Guide your clients through the process of becoming comfortable with teletherapy. Discuss teletherapy, what happens during a session, and create a space for their appointments. Making a client feel at ease promotes their willingness to engage in treatment. A few suggestions to help create a safe and comfortable therapy space include:
Helping clients design a safe, private, and comfortable space for their sessions can increase their willingness to remain engaged in their therapy sessions. You can offer suggestions on how to set up a room. For instance, guide them to find a space that isn't in a high traffic zone and is quiet. Clients can look throughout their homes for a space like this.
However, not everyone can dedicate a space or find a calm place for teletherapy sessions. Instead, encourage them to ask loved ones to avoid their session spot while receiving care.
Privacy and quiet are vital to a productive teletherapy session. If clients think they might be overheard, let them know they can turn on soothing sounds to help decrease the risk. For instance, if they have a voice-activated home system, they can ask to play thunderstorm sounds.
Anyone can have a safe, private space but still be uncomfortable if they don't have comfortable seating. If clients have a dedicated space for their teletherapy sessions, advise them to make it theirs by adding comfortable seating, pillows, or pictures. Let them decide what they want to create the ambiance they need.
Just as a client's environment for teletherapy is different from a typical therapy setting, so is yours. As a clinician, you can consider how your space will look to a client. Creating a safe space on your end can also help with client engagement. A few ways to create a serene setting include:
Clients who use teletherapy will only see the area immediately behind you. Set up and accessorize the space behind you in a peaceful and not too distracting manner. If possible, take time to simulate a session so you can see how the background will appear to a client.
Lighting can also matter to your setup. Consider the lighting in the room. Whether you choose low lights or use natural light, think about how the room will look to the person on the other side. Don't forget to pay attention to how the light affects your face. You want a client to see you. Also, be aware of how various times affect how you and the room look on camera.
The chair you use for in-person sessions most likely won't be the one you use during a teletherapy session. If you use a different chair, choose one that is comfortable enough for you to sit in for the duration of the session. While you're considering the right chair for your space, try to put tissues and a beverage close enough to avoid moving.
Teletherapy is a viable alternative to in-person care. As a part of the process to decrease your client's apprehension about teletherapy, discuss with them what to expect and the protections you and the app have in place. While there are some remaining challenges to providing teletherapy sessions, you can work with your client to make receiving care safe and convenient. Through constructive conversations, you can discuss their needs or concerns. Next, talk with them about obtaining therapy through an app. Finally, continue the discussion by explaining the benefits of teletherapy sessions. SokyaHealth's dedication to their clients' wellness includes a comprehensive array of teletherapy services accessible to anyone regardless of where they live or work. A client can even have a therapy session while they're on vacation. Whether a client requires self-care guidance, coaching, or therapy, SokyaHealth ensures we pair a client with the proper mental health and wellness expert for their needs. Call us for more information at (877) 840-6956.