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Preparing for your Virtual Therapy Appointment

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Can't make it into the office? We can still work together. Since we are licensed in California, we can offer psychotherapy to all residents of the state. To everyone outside of that and across the globe, we have some who can also offer some coaching services. So wherever you are, we can work together
 

Distance and schedules shouldn’t stand in the way of feeling better. With HIPAA approved video conferencing software, we can still meet up and have effective therapy sessions online.

Telehealth goes by many names such as online therapy, video therapy, teletherapy, and more. No matter what the name, the concept allows you to receive therapeutic services from the comfort of your home through a computer, phone, or other device with online access. The connection is safe, secure, and easy.​

How to Prepare

Dear Clients, moms, dads and kiddos:

I’m so glad you have decided to stay focused on your mental and emotional health.  In chaotic and uncertain times like these, the risk of depression and anxiety rises and it’s so important that we all make our emotional well-being a priority.  I’m so proud of you for doing so!!

In preparation for our online sessions here are some things to consider:

For Adults in Individual Sessions

  • Find a quiet place to be during the entire session. If you have help at home, let your family members know that you shouldn’t be disturbed.  If you’re not able to find a quiet spot at home, consider your car (in the garage, driveway, or at the closest parking lot).

  • If necessary, place a sign on your door to remind family members not to come in. If you have little kids, get creative and funny, and hang something silly on the door to remind them (a stuffed monkey hanging by its tail, a funny hat or cape, etc.)

  • Please do not attend sessions when you are in a public space where you have no privacy and can be overheard. We want you to feel safe and comfortable to discuss any issue that comes up with concern of a passerby hearing your story.

  • If you are able to find privacy while in a comfortable public space, use headphones.

  • Ideally, we can see each other’s faces during session. This is especially important to me if we are doing trauma work as so much of my assessment of how you are responding to treatment is gained through watching your face and body.

  • Anticipate glitches with technology. The platform I use, Simple Practice, is HIPAA compliant and has been working well but neither of us can predict the signal strength or quality at any given time.  My second platform is Zoom and if necessary, we can switch to phone.

  • Bring tissues in case you cry.

  • Have a soothing drink with you.

  • Consider a cozy blanket or warm sweater – get cozy. I’m doing the same on my end!

 

For Couples Sessions

  • I’m assuming you will be together in the same room for your session. You can sit together in a comfortable place and use one computer to log in.  If for some reason you are in different locations, you can each log in from your own device.

  • If you have children, do the best you can to plan for their entertainment. If someone else is there to help, great!  If it’s just you two, tell the kids you are in a meeting and need privacy.  Consider the tips above.  Plan something to keep them as entertained as possible.  If you have to attend to the munchkins, go ahead.  This is real life and we are going to roll with it!

  • If possible, give yourselves some time before and after your session to regroup. If the session was difficult, take some time apart until the tension is relieved a bit.  We will review these issues in session too.

 

For Child Sessions

If your child participates in individual sessions without you, please work collaboratively with them to determine where in the home they would feel most comfortable and help them set up this space to accommodate a computer (plugged in so we don’t lose power mid-session), decent lighting, and privacy.

Parents, you will need to be available to support your child even if they are in the session alone.  If there is a technological glitch, you will need to be there to help them.

For teens:

We will start right off in our individual session and I will let you know when I need to check in with you or if we need to schedule a parent session

 

For elementary age children:

Child sessions are typically split into two parts, one where I direct the play and one where your child chooses/directs the play.  This will continue virtually.  Because your child is not in my office to choose an activity from my toy closet, they will need to use their own toys and activities.  I may use some online resources at times or read to them also. They can use their toys to play with my toys and I can continue to address important emotional issues remotely, just as I do in session.

  • I will start the session with you and your child for a check-in. If you need time without your child present, please let me know and we will talk either at the beginning or end of the session for about 10 minutes.  If you need more time than that we may need to schedule a separate parent session so your child doesn’t miss out on their time too.

  • Some sessions may include you for a portion or the duration of the session. We will discuss this as we work together.

  • Your child will still need privacy! Please do not listen in – privacy is an essential part of therapy, even for a child.  If you need to enter your child’s space during the session, please knock or announce yourself as you approach so they know you are near.

  • Please have paper, crayons, colored pencils available for your child to use. Your child may also choose to use playdough, or clay.

  • Your child is welcome to bring a stuffed animal, doll, or other toy to show me

  • Your child may want to give me a tour of their home. This is okay with me if its okay with you.

  • I will direct your child to go and get you when we are done so we can check in if needed, schedule our next apt and officially log-off.

  • I may send you something to do with your child in preparation for the session (scavenger hunt, draw a picture, etc.)

 

For Children under 5yo

Sessions with children under 5yo are typically conducted with a parent.  Please plan to participate in the session with your baby or young child just as you did in person. Here are things to consider and plan for:

  • Because we don’t have access to my toys, you will need to come to session with toys or activities from your own home. If your child is old enough to choose, let them do so.  If you have a baby, bring their favorite things.

  • You are welcome to breastfeed or feed your baby in any way during the session

  • Please do not worry too much about being in view of the camera as your child move around or as you respond to your child’s needs. We will roll with whatever happens.

  • If you have other children who you do not want to be with you, try your best to arrange for care or entertainment. See the ideas above.

 

Thank you everyone!  I look forward to seeing you in our next appointment.  Please ask any questions you may have.  We will adjust to virtual therapy together!

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