Updated: Feb 16
Online counseling, never done it? Well it is not as scary as you might think. You might be thinking about starting online counseling, but fear of the unknown is creating a barrier to starting, especially when it comes to doing it from home. Setting up your space will make you feel empowered, allow you to be in control of your environment, and will ease some worries about starting therapy. Online counseling is becoming the new norm, at least for the time being. Below are some ideas on how to make sure you get the most out of your session by how you set up your space. Atmosphere is important, especially when it comes to being vulnerable, and you want to make sure you feel safe and comfortable. Here are some ways you can do that.
Find your area
Whether it is a guest bedroom, an office area, a closet or the kitchen table, make sure your area is private, quiet and well lit. This sounds self-explanatory, but you would be surprised how much better you will feel when you have a designated area for your teletherapy. Not only is it nice to not have to worry about looking for a space for each online session, but it also gives you a moment to prepare for your appointment with your therapist. Doing this will also give you an opportunity to tweak anything that doesn’t work so you can make changes before the next session.
If you live with someone, coordinate schedules to make sure you are able to talk openly and freely. Therapy is a time and space specifically for you, and you want to make sure it feels safe and comfortable without the worry of someone else overhearing what you are processing through. Being vulnerable and allowing yourself to reflect and grow is important and can be difficult if you do not feel you have privacy.
If you are in another room and it is not feasible to have your partner or roommate leave, white noise can be very beneficial. You can turn the bathroom fan on, use a regular fan, or play some music outside the door if you do not have a traditional white noise machine. If you are looking for one, I like this small, portable noise machine for under $10.
Typically therapy sessions are about 50 minutes long so you want to find a comfortable chair or place to sit. You want to create a warm, calming and relaxing environment, so try to think of the space your therapist has created for you before you started doing your online session. If you have never been to therapy, try to think of what would make you feel comfortable and relaxed, and you can go from a bean bag chair, to an office chair to a camping chair. The chair isn’t the most important thing, so use what you have and make sure you feel good in the space.
Like I have said before, most sessions are about 50 minutes so make sure you grab some water, go to the restroom beforehand, turn your phone off, get a blanket or open a window if its warm, have a notepad for notes and have tissues if you have some (it’s better to have them and not need them than need them and not have them.) This is also a time to take a minute to yourself to think about what you would like to talk about and check in with how you are feeling. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings and be honest with yourself and your therapist.
These simple suggestions can make a huge difference in how you feel when you go into therapy and will help set you up for success. By doing these tricks to prepare your space, you will feel in control, motivated to start the healing process and excited to use the space you have created for yourself. Now is as good a time as ever to dig deep and learn more about what makes you tick, and what better place to do that then being in the comfort of your own home?
Still unsure about online counseling? Check out our blog post 8 Surprising Benefits of Online Therapy.
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Christina Titcomb is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Catalyss Counseling in Englewood, CO. Christina specializes in treating adults for trauma, anxiety, depression, and grief and loss. Follow Catalyss Counseling on LinkedIn and Facebook.