Online counselling is on the rise. In light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, most counsellors are now offering online services. Whether it’s through video or voice call, counsellors and their clients are realizing that not only is online counselling possible — but with the right tools, it’s highly effective. Now that counsellors and their clients have discovered that virtual therapy works, it’s here to stay. But counsellors continue to look for tips and tools to make online counselling a better experience for themselves, and their clients. Here are some tips, tricks, and tools to do just that.
1. Stay adaptable
For a lot of clients and counsellors, online therapy is brand new territory. We’re all figuring this out together, so it’s important to stay flexible with your client’s needs. While some may benefit most from a video call, others might feel more comfortable with a voice-only call, or text message check-ins. It all depends on the client’s current situation. For example, those living with families or roommates might prefer text to maintain privacy. But for those living on their own, audio and video on loudspeaker might feel most effective. The beauty of online therapy is how adjustable it is for every client’s unique needs — so be open to discovering which combination of video, audio, and text works best for each individual. Not only is online counselling convenient, but with the right tips and tools, it’s accessible to clients everywhere. Everyone’s needs are different. So meet your clients where they are, virtually.
2. Incorporate technology into your practice
When it comes to homework compliance, using digital tools and technology can be a huge benefit to your clients. A digital homework app like Therachat can help you with a whole host of benefits like checking in on client progress, sending daily homework reminders, check-ins, emotion tracking, and skill-building activities. Over time, better homework compliance helps clients reach their goals faster. And, clients already have access to what they need most on their smartphones. That’s why having counsellor check-ins at their fingertips feels natural and accessible. It’s about delivering care in a way that’s familiar to clients.
3. Balance technology and traditions
While using technology to your advantage can be helpful for counsellors and clients, it’s best to keep certain aspects traditional. Amelia Larson, MSW, RSW is one of Wellin5’s successful online counsellors. She recommends balancing technology with traditionality for best results.
“Im sort of old school. I take notes in a notebook. When we introduce technology into a therapy setting, it can divide the attention differently. In my sessions, I always use a notebook because I want to avoid clicking away on the keyboard while a client is sharing some of their toughest moments with me.”
Amelia’s strategy allows counsellors to take notes that meet regulatory requirements, while staying engaged with clients throughout the session.
4. Ensure clients feel comfortable
The intimate nature of counselling means clients are often unpacking the deepest parts of themselves. It’s best to ensure they are comfortable, so emotions can flow more freely, and so they feel supported in those moments. Encourage clients to intentionally set up their physical space to feel as safe and cozy as possible. Whether it’s setting the right ambience with pillows and lighting a candle — or practical things like finding a quiet space or putting on headphones. Whatever helps clients feel they are in an environment that’s safe, supported, and open.
5. Embrace small moments
When appropriate, counsellors can connect with their clients on a personal level to build a trusting relationship over time. Counsellors can do this through chit chat and small talk before diving into the more heavy topics. It may sound insignificant, but small moments of connection like chatting about goings-on in the city or hobbies is an easy way to build rapport and solidify connection. It goes a long way in helping clients feel less isolated, especially while many are still isolating at home.
“Clients will appreciate that you’re a real person. Find moments to be human. Be real. Be expressive. It’s about finding ways to be in the room when you’re not physically in the room,” said Amelia.
The small things can make clients feel supported in a big way — particularly while providing care at a physical distance. It enhances the sense of community that’s so important for mental health during these times.
Find success with online counselling tips
Shifting from in-person to online counselling can be an adjustment for everyone — but it doesn’t have to be stressful. With the right tips and tools in place, counsellors and their clients can successfully meet their goals together. For more ways to elevate your client’s online counselling experience, check out Therachat’s innovative features.