Talking to a mental health professional (psychotherapy) can be very helpful in treating depression and anxiety disorders. A therapist can help you learn new ways of thinking about difficult situations. A therapist may also help you face and change old habits that may be contributing to your depression.
Therapy was once primarily an in-person, face-to-face interaction. However, in the last few years, a dramatic and welcome shift has occurred with telemedicine and video visits being offered on a significantly larger scale. In fact, almost all mental health services have converted to this format, which has improved accessibility and provided more-flexible pathways to care. Virtual therapy is especially helpful for people who live in rural areas or have mobility issues that prevent travel. Many telemedicine restrictions have been waived in the U.S., and more people with Medicare and Medicaid can use these services now.
Making virtual therapy work
Here are some tips to make the best of a virtual therapy session:
Schedule an initial meeting in person, if possible
Being in the same room with a therapist can help establish trust and increase comfort with subsequent online appointments.
Be ready to write
You might know what you want to talk about, but in the moment, it can sometimes be hard to remember everything on your list. Write down any thoughts or questions in advance of a therapy session. In addition, be prepared to write down notes for future reference based on your conversation.
Prepare well in advance for tech issues
At least a day before your appointment, follow the organization’s instructions for downloading needed software. Check your camera and make sure your device has working speakers and a microphone or headset. If you’re using a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet, find an area in your home with strong Wi-Fi or mobile data. And check that you have enough battery power before you start your appointment. To be most prepared, try out the software on a casual call with friends to make sure everything works.
Find a quiet space in your home where you won’t be interrupted. If others are at home, let them know that you will be in a meeting with your health care provider. Set your device’s camera at eye level to make it easy for your provider to see and talk with you.
Make sure you speak clearly to your therapist so they can understand you. Likewise, speak up if you can’t see or understand your therapist.
It doesn’t have to be just you
It’s OK to have a trusted family member or caregiver with you to help. But make sure to let your provider know if there’s another person in the room during your appointment.