Humans are amazing in this way; our resilience allows us to adapt and so we have.
One week, we were going about our daily lives, perhaps even, at times feeling just that little bit bored by the daily grind. Then, suddenly, all this flipped upside down, did several somersaults and landed on its head. Everything we took as a given, was no longer a given. Schools were closed, many of us were asked to work from home, and appointments and events were cancelled. To some degree, in the beginning, it perhaps felt like life itself had been cancelled.
A few weeks on and we are already adjusting. Humans are amazing in this way; our resilience allows us to adapt and so we have.
This is not to say that all is fine or that we are not struggling, we most certainly are, and some more so than others. One of the things that we perhaps took for granted was the possibility of attending a therapy session in person. Psychotherapy was one of those things that had to shift very suddenly. Most organizations quickly tried to adapt to working online, where at all possible, in order to adhere to the social distancing recommendations. Initially, I think it is safe to say, that this was met by some resistance, both by therapists who were unused to working online and by clients who had a number of very valid reasons for not wanting to continue their therapeutic journey through a computer screen.
In this article, we shall briefly explore some of these reasons and perhaps attempt to address some of the concerns presented by clients during this shift.
“It’s just too strange, it’s not personal enough.”
This was the primary concern for most people, clients and professionals both. Something which is unfamiliar tends to feel uncomfortable, mostly just because it is new. The lack of physical presence is a real thing and it does make a difference, there is no denying this. On the other hand, different is not necessarily bad, only different. Often, I have found that if people have some experience in therapy and then need to shift to working online, it takes a little bit of time, perhaps a couple of sessions to start feeling comfortable. On the other hand, when people’s first experience of therapy is online, it seems that within the first session, many feel more comfortable than they anticipated.
“I’m not good with technology.”
This is a big one and again I would say it is one faced by many therapists and clients alike. Let’s face it, many of us are not tech wizards, so most of us are struggling to figure out all the different software and applications etc. This is OK, we are figuring it out together and some way or another we will find a way to make it work. If this is your primary concern, speak to your therapist and they will do their best to guide you through it. Admittedly you may both be confused at times as to why you can’t see or hear the person, or why you continue to freeze up but for the most part, together you will muddle through.
“I don’t have any privacy.”
This is a common concern at this point. Most of us are sharing a home with others who are also not leaving the house and many of us do not live in enormous homes so finding a space which is quiet and private enough for our session can be a challenge. Some people have found that they are able and comfortable to have a session in their car if the internet connection is strong enough. Others have found that using headphones can help in drowning out noise from the rest of the household. Others have asked the people they live with to wear noise cancelling headphones for the time of their session.
“My problem isn’t big enough.”
This is not a problem encountered only in online therapy. Many people tend to feel like this in general regarding attending therapy, but it does seem to have become more noticeable now. Many seem to think that they must be breaking down to seek therapy, particularly now. Ideally therapy is there to support people to avoid getting to that point and I would say that particularly during this time, when many of us are struggling to come to terms with the many, sudden changes in our lives, therapy can be a helpful resource in helping us to tap into that resilience I mentioned earlier. In short, people’s issues are never too small to seek help for.
As we are slowly, getting more used to living our lives online, we are starting to notice that not only is online therapy helpful but that it may even offer some advantages.
Firstly, there is the obvious convenience, we are not using precious time to travel to and from our session. Secondly when people are really struggling, it can be easier and less intimidating to seek out therapy remotely. Lastly, clients are able to, if they wish, share a bit more of their life through introducing us to their home and pets. This sometimes allows a client to feel just that little bit more at ease as they are in their own environment which is where they feel safe.
In conclusion, these words are the result of some of the things we have heard over these past few weeks. I would like to close by reiterating that though online therapy is most certainly a different experience, this does not mean it has to be a bad one. That being said, online therapy is not going to be for everyone and that is fine as well. This article will of course not address all individuals’ concerns, if you are struggling or not sure whether you would like to try this out, get in touch and speak to someone about it. They will be able to address your specific concerns and you can, together find the best way forward.
Article written by Katie Delicata, Gestalt Psychotherapist.