Embracing The Change To Online Therapy
As our world today is asking us to modify our behavior with social distancing and working and going to school from home, it is opening up the possibility for people to embrace change in many areas of their life. If we resist this change it makes life harder. When we push against what is in front of us, we struggle with the effort and often focus on what we do not like about the situation. Letting go of the fight and accepting what is front of us for what it is, allows us to take a new perspective. It allows us to move through what is in front of us with less struggle and make a conscious choice of how we want to proceed.
One area of life that is feeling the effect of change amidst the COVID-19 outbreak is behavioral health services, with many therapists making the transition to telehealth, or online video therapy. Therapists and clients alike often question the validity of online therapy, believing that in-person therapy is better. I do believe there is a preference for people, as there is with everything, but online therapy is backed by over 20 years of research and is just as effective as in-person therapy.
I made the switch to online video therapy last year after several years of providing therapy in the traditional in-person setting. Working with clients face-to-face, I enjoyed hearing what they had to share, noticing their body language, being a witness to their emotions, and celebrating their progress. Interacting face-to-face allowed us to connect with one another, see each other, feel the energy of our presence in the room, and build the rapport that is the supporting foundation of most successful therapy.
What I found when I switched to providing online video therapy is that my connection to clients did not change. The way I connect is different, there is no question about that. However, I still build rapport in the first session which allows us to move forward together in the therapy process. I am still a witness to emotions and provide empathy in the moment. I still notice body language, with how facial expressions change, how the body leans forward or sits back, or how the arms open or close off. I have found that my ability to connect with others and assist them in achieving their personal goals has not diminished with my move to online video therapy. In fact, I think for me, it has improved.
I am working in an environment that I thrive in. And when I am thriving, I provide a higher quality of service to my clients. I enjoy working with clients who live in my local area and outside of my local area, creating a diversity in my client population that I did not realize was missing in my previous work. I benefit from seeing what locations my clients choose to have their therapy sessions in, whether it is their home, a family member or friend’s home, work, outside, or in their car. Regardless of where they choose, it tells me something about where they feel safe and what a piece of their world looks like, which is something I did not see when I worked with clients at my in-person office. I am also able to provide a greater flexibility of appointment times for my clients and am able to meet with my clients when one of us is sick as there is no risk of either of us passing a cold or flu to each other.
When I made the change to online video therapy it was scary and exciting, going into the unknown of doing something new. It was also unknown to many of my clients, who moved into it hesitantly and then opened up to the process as they learned it was a positive experience for them. When we open ourselves to new experiences, it may improve our overall quality of life, as this change did for me, because change has a ripple effect. Not only does it affect the direct part of your life you are changing, but it often has an indirect effect on other areas of your life.
Change does not have to be large to be powerful. Making small changes can have a cumulative effect on your life, shifting you into a new perspective. Doing something different today allows you the opportunity to experience a change for tomorrow. It opens you up to a flexibility and freedom to experience life from a new perspective. And that is how change works. Change does not happen by wishing for it. Change happens by doing something different than what you did yesterday and the day before that and the day before that.
If you are ready to make a change in your life, ask yourself what the first step might look like. Maybe you start small to get comfortable with the idea of change or maybe you jump right in. Do what feels right for you. The goal is to do something different and see if you like the result. If you do, keep doing it and build on it. If you don’t like it, choose something different and try again.
And if you are ready to make a change by trying online video therapy, reach out to me HERE or another provider who offers it. We are all feeling the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and it can be helpful to have someone objective to talk to and help you move through this uncertain time. You may find it is exactly what you are looking for!
If you are interested in working with me, I offer a free 30-minute video or phone consultation that you can schedule HERE, allowing us a chance to talk and determine if I would be a good fit for you.
Bradi Bergesen is a licensed independent clinical social worker using online video therapy to connect with adults throughout the state of Washington to help them live at their fullest potential and accepts Regence, Premera and First Choice Health insurances.