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Teletherapy

TELETHERAPY SESSIONS AND YOU

August 13, 2021

With everything COVID and the generally busy lives we lead you been asked by your psychologist to move to digital sessions. Teletherapy sessions are typically completed over the telephone or a video therapy platform. These digital platforms require additional disclosures. Please review your informed consent document and talk to your psychologist about it in more detail. Ask questions if you are unsure!  

Effective Teletherapy 

While there are several types of video platforms, here at Unstuck we use Jane. Jane requires that you click the link sent to your email to begin your session. If you are using a phone or tablet device you will need to download an application to start your session. You can access the video system before your appointment. Take the time to get familiar with the system. If you have not received a link to your email before your appointment, please connect with us as it usually means that there has been an error. 

There is some general video session etiquette that can help enhance your experience in digital therapy. We’re trying to mimic the environment of your therapist’s office as much as we can. It’s not going to be perfect, but we can try. So, if you wouldn’t do it in person, then it’s probably something that we want to avoid during teletherapy

For instance, be comfortable but still wear clothing. When we’re moving around getting comfortable, you might accidently share something you didn’t mean to share. Try to be in a reasonably quiet space with limited distractions. We want to be able to hear you, and for you to hear us. However, if you didn’t catch something or there was too much going on, ask for clarification. It’s a great opportunity to practice those communication skills! If you need to grab a coffee, tea, or run some errands, please do so before or after session. We understand that you are busy, however in order for sessions to be effective, we need the focus to be on you. 

Hardware and Technology 

There are also two technical areas that can really enhance your teletherapy sessions.  If you have the chance, get familiar with your microphone and camera settings. Consider testing them before your appointment. Both with Jane and your general computer settings. This allows you to use your teletherapy session for the things you want to work on rather than troubleshootingWe’re psychologists and while we can help with your frustration at technology, we’re often in the same boat when it comes to troubleshooting.  

Also, please use headphones. This limits what other people may hear, decreases feedback (the large static like sound you sometimes hear), echoing, and allows us to focus on your session. You might need to have one ear open for others in your home or if you have a parcel coming, that’s totally fine!   Wearing headphones (even one ear) makes the teletherapy process much smoother for all involved.  

If we’re in the middle of teletherapy and all of the sudden we hit a hardware issue, we’ll try another method of contacting you right away. If we’re using Jane and we lose sound, we’ll probably let you know by the chat box or via telephone.  

Feeling Connected during Teletherapy 

You may also notice that it can be more difficult to feel connected or aligned with your therapist during teletherapy. This is normal, expected, and your psychologist can feel it too! Having teletherapy sessions can mean that we are missing the physical cues regarding how everyone is responding to specific comments, situations, or skills. We try to remedy this by asking for an increased level of communication. This looks like both you and your psychologist ask more clarifying questions. It does require that we reflect more on your physical responses and increasing awareness of triggers. It can actually be a great way to explore our inner workings because we need to evaluate why certain responses have come up. 

Safety in Teletherapy 

Safety becomes a larger concern when we are discussing teletherapyWhen you’re in our office, most of these do not come up as we’re together. We can see you, know who is with us, and notice changes in your demeanor much more rapidly. In teletherapy though, we have to expressly ask these things to be sure that we have this information. 

If you are not in a safe place, one where you can express yourself (and your emotions) freely, please let us know. This will allow us to change gears and work on concerns that are less sensitive if overheard or find a way to discuss this without putting you at risk. Please let us know via chat box (if in session), telephone or email prior to your session.  

Alternative Environments 

If your vehicle is the only safe place you have to talk to us, please find a spot to park before attending session. Driving and having your session can be difficult for a number of reasons. During session, we’re asking you to focus on your body, mind, and experience which unfortunately is incompatible with driving. If you’re shifting your focus away from those things, then we won’t be working as effectively as we hoped. So, once you find a good spot to park for the session, let us know where you are. Part of ensuring your safety is being able to provide accurate information to emergency services if needed. If you’re going to go for a walk during the teletherapy session, please let us know the area that you are walking in. 

Privacy During Teletherapy 

Please make sure you are alone (in the immediate vicinity). Even if you feel it is okay for someone to hear what you’re discussing with your therapist, we don’t know what is going to come up and it may end up being something you would have liked to keep private. If you need to have someone close by, please make sure there is separation between the area where you’re having your teletherapy session and the area in which the person will be waiting.  

Sometimes we cannot do these things, and this may mean that we have to suspend sessions or refer you to an in-person providerThis is not because we do not want to see you, rather it is because your safety is our #1 concern. If you are unable to effectively engage with teletherapy than we are obligated to offer referrals to a clinician that will be able to accommodate your needs. This can also include changing the type of therapy we’re engaging in or moving more slowly to ensure that we are progressing with safety in mind.  

How to start Teletherapy 

Teletherapy is here to stay. It’s been growing over the past 10 years and it’s boomed with everyone being isolated. Providing more options for people to be able to reach out and enter therapy is a boon in my book! Here at Unstuck, we’re available for teletherapy risk free consultations. You can book online or call into our office. Just like with our teletherapy sessions, we want to make booking as easy as possible for you. So, whether it’s COVID related or if it’s just your preference, we have the teletherapy options for you.  

Angela MacLeod, R. Psych  

References 

Canadian Psychological Association. (2020). Interim ethical guidelines for psychologists providing psychological services via electronic media.  

Canadian Psychological Association. (2017). Canadian code of ethical for psychologists.  

Ontario Psychological Association. (2015). Guidelines for best practices in the provision of telepsychology.  

American Psychological Association. (2013). Guidelines for the practice of telepsychology.