What a time we’re living in. My son’s school district announced yesterday that they would be closing until their scheduled spring break, totalling 4 weeks away from school. 4 WEEKS. This mama is a little nervous about that, however, since having children I’ve been a huge fan of precaution, and even extra caution. So, bring it on. On a related note, please send kid activities my way ASAP!
So here I sit, trying to process and digest what is happening. My husband and I talked about never having seen anything like this in either of lifetimes. It’s a lot, you guys. But, one thing that hasn’t come up for me is work-related anxiety, which would not have always been the case. You see, over the summer, we moved out of state and in order to transition, I started to see my clients online via video sessions. My plan was to find an office once we arrived in Indiana and I did, I called around, saw some cool spaces, but ultimately my caseload was just fine and get this – my clients were THRIVING utilizing this mode of online therapy. I’ll be honest, I was a little surprised.
While I thought online therapy would be a good, temporary solution, I did not expect it to surpass my expectations by so much, and certainly did not expect, in some cases, for online therapy to seemingly surpass the efficacy of in person sessions. I had the benefit of witnessing progress in office sessions versus video sessions as some of my clients transitioned from one mode to the other with me. And let me tell you, the disinhibition effect is real, in my experience. (Used for good in this scenario of course). Never heard of it? I’ll link an article here for your reading pleasure. It seemed that clients were able to open up at a more rapid pace, leading to seemingly quicker progress. Say what?! I was shocked, delightfully shocked.
It has truly been a wonderfully, unexpected surprise. And now, nine months later, I still maintain a fully online, video-based, therapeutic case load. I’ve learned a lot along the way and I’m happy to say I am well-versed in telemental health and that all my systems are up and running, smoothly and efficiently. The platforms I use are safe, secure, encrypted, confidential and HIPAA compliant. In fact, one could argue that online counseling services can maintain more privacy when compared to in person counseling. There is no chance of walking into an office and running into someone you may know. There is no sharing a waiting room or lobby with other patients.
My patients have the ease and convenience of eliminating a commute to my office by simply connecting from their phones, tablets or computers via a link I send to them. Now, don’t get me wrong, online therapy is not for everyone. You may be wondering what makes for a good online therapy candidate. Well, in many ways it is the same as a good candidate for in person therapy. Therapy works well for those who are motivated for change (for an extended look at whether or not you are ready to engage in successful therapy, please check out the “Does Therapy Work” page linked here). In addition, to the qualities listed, a good candidate for online therapy will also have the ability to create a private space from themselves, free from distractions, to focus on the session.
Now for some misconceptions about online therapy. I do receive calls from people who are simply not ready to try online therapy. I had one person reach out with concern of not wanting their business online. Let me just clear that up for you right here and now, I take the privacy of my patients very seriously. I use very safe and secure technology to conduct video sessions. Please do not envision your therapy session taking place on a Facebook Live or the like! Your business, your personal information, does not become “fair game” when you consent to online therapy. I would consider online therapy one of my specialties now, and confidentiality is of the utmost importance to me for my clients. Additionally, online therapy is not a “lesser form” of therapy. I will admit I may have had some of these elitist views (as many therapists do) before diving into an exclusively online therapy practice, that it’s not the “right way” to do therapy. But, as mentioned above, I have seen many of my cases excel with online, video sessions (and perhaps at quicker rates than in person).
I have a much different view of online therapy than I once did, and I predict there will be a lot of other therapists to follow given community shutdowns happening all over the country. A therapist who is willing to offer online sessions, is an adaptable therapist, and that is the kind of flexibility you want to see in any therapist you choose to work with. Online therapy is progressive and trust me, this is a good quality to have in your therapist.
Whether you find yourself overwhelmed by the current state of affairs and need guidance in coping with the anxiety and stress or just feel inclined to try online therapy, give me a call to see if we would be a good fit. One of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to focus on what you can control. And calling today, being proactive about your health, is certainly within your control. For a few other quick, helpful tips to get through the stress and anxiety of this uncertain, unfamiliar time, please see below.
Amygdala based approaches to manage anxiety:
- Maintain a regular sleep schedule.
- Exercise regularly.
- Engage in deep breathing and mindfulness techniques.
Cortex based approaches to manage anxiety:
- Practice daily gratitude.
- Reframe the current challenges (e.g. this will give me more time with my family).
- Recognize your doom-based thoughts when they’re happening and replace them with more logic-based thoughts.
Remember anxiety DOES have a function, it just gets out of control sometimes. The main purpose of anxiety is to get us to make a plan for possible threats. The tricky part is to then move on and forward once the plan has been made. I’m here to help.
Laura J. Jordan
For more information about Online Therapy, click here.