Shulamis Cheryl Mayerfeld
Surprising Benefits of Teletherapy
Updated: Jul 6, 2020
I have noticed some interesting and even surprising benefits of telehealth over these past few months, that frankly I would not have appreciated had we not been "forced" to operate this way due to Covid-19. Although we have been technically working from a distance when meeting virtually, my clients and I have undergone increased connection and closeness. First of all, the joint sense isolation, working from home, and balancing work and family tasks have seemed to create an increased sense of intimacy. We are all encountering a similar experience in our personal lives, and even if it is not explicitly discussed, the knowledge and reality of it are always present under the surface. There is also the uniqueness of being let into another's personal space, whether it be their bedroom, home office, or car (how many of us have been escaping to the car as the last palace for privacy - no wonder this seems to be where most of our sessions take place!).
Getting a glimpse into each other's personal physical space has added to a sense of shared familiarity. Of course there is also the technical facial proximity to the screen. Certainly when we meet in person my clients and I are are not sitting that close to each other - that would actually feel quite awkward and uncomfortable! Yet with telehealth sessions our faces are close to the screens in a way that feels natural and not awkward at all. This has provided the perfect setting for greater non-verbal sharing on both of our parts. Although all of these examples of increased closeness has typically occured subcounsciously without us needing to specifically address it, it has significantly enriched the bonding process of telehealth - both with new and established clients.
Many clients have noted that although they were hesitant to try at first, they feel great value in telehealth sessions and plan to use them in the future when they are unable to make it into the office.
Clients enjoy having the therapist present in their 'real' life to get a better sense of what they are talking about during the session. Some clients have actually opted for phone sessions if they do not have access to the internet for video sessions, and many have commented that it feels “easier” to discuss some of the more personal and vulnerable challenges they are facing. They feel safer sharing deeply personal topics and have experienced great value in it. Ultimately, my clients have really appreciated having a variety of ways to connect therapeutically. During this time, it has been so wonderful to take advantage of the different ways my clients can continue to grow in therapy.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when using teletherapy to make it most effective.
Be on time to your sessions and make sure you have a private space to speak in.
Give it the same respect as you do your in-person sessions. Have a phone handy as backup just in case there are some technical web issues.
A sense of humor and ability to roll with the technical glitch punches is really helpful too and adds to the experience! Clients and I often break into laughter at our frozen images on screen and then go right back into our therapeutic discussions. It has actually provided a funny comic relief yet has not interfered with the substance of our sessions.
To explore if teletherpy is right for you, reach out for a free 15 minute consultation! I am now offering remote sessions from the comfort of your own home.