Thoughts on Working Online

Virtual therapy provides many benefits, most particularly increased access and flexibility of time and place. A 45-minute session need not consume 2-3 hours in terms of preparing for and traveling to and from.

But there are costs to doing virtual therapy. Indeed, some therapists and clients believe that something is lost when we do not meet in the same room. I agree. When we meet online, we lose aspects of face-to-face connection. We interact differently online; the energy of our connection is different. Also, it can be more challenging to settle in to do meaningful work. And when working online, distractions may abound, for example, from screen notifications or other people near our space.

I strongly believe that online therapy can be effective but, given these challenges, it behooves us to do what we can to foster and protect our connection to maximize the impact of our time together. We need to exercise our intention to slow down and connect with our self before we begin each session. We need to carve out and protect a specific time and place for our work. We need to create a comfortable, distraction-free space to allow ourselves to connect and do deep work together.

Here are a few ideas to help us connect as deeply as possible with ourselves and each other:

1. General privacy. Find a spot that is private and where you feel comfortable. Consider using a fan or noise maker to ensure privacy if others are near your space.

2. Technology. Please ensure that you have solid WiFi (or connectivity) where you will be and that the computer or tablet you are using has a working camera and mic system. Whenever possible, please use a computer or tablet instead of a phone. If we have trouble connecting via computer/tablet, we may use phones as a backup.

3. Interruptions. Close other windows on your computer and turn off notifications or switch your device to “do not disturb”. Please mute your phone and do not take non-emergency calls during our session.

4. Distractions. Turn off any TV, radio or other source of distraction in the room.

5. Self view. Please disable self view. To do this in Zoom, go to the upper right of your picture, and find the three dots; click on the dots and then scroll to and click on “hide self view.”

6. Cars. If you are doing our session from a car, please make sure you are alone and that you are parked. I won’t conduct a session while a client is driving.

7. Sign in. Try to sign in a few minutes before our session begins. Use the time to connect with yourself, relax and contemplate our work before we start.

8. Special requests. These two will help me be more present in our work. First, please make sure that your device is resting on a steady surface. When the screen is jiggling, or moving (e.g., being carried), I tend to get a headache. Second, please use the natural background — the fuzzy and other background options cause one to go in and out of focus; this may be apropos of the human condition, but I find it distracting.