How to Prepare for your Online Therapy Session

Take a few minutes prior to your telehealth session to prepare

Online therapy is just one-way telehealth is giving you more options for your physical and emotional care. You may already be speaking to your physician through video conferencing or through a secure clinic portal and know the advantages that video sessions offer.

Meeting with your therapist is a lot like using Skype, Zoom or FaceTime with your friends. A few minutes of preparation before your online therapy session can set you up for an easy, comfortable virtual visit.

1. Create your therapy space
Your session is held at your place. Find a spot in your home that is quiet and private and let your partner, family or roommates know you’ll need some time to yourself. A note on the door, white noise or music in or outside the room, and closed windows and doors are helpful.

Gather what will make you the most comfy…coffee, a blanket, your pet. Don’t forget Kleenex. At your office? Do what you can to minimize disruptions. Clear your desk and kick off your shoes.

2. Position your camera at eye level
Locate your camera on your computer or phone. Note: the camera on your computer may be at the bottom of your screen. Prop up the phone or stack some books under your computer to place the camera at your eye level. This lets your therapist see your whole face. Plan to keep your device and you, as still as possible.

3. Find your light source
Try to find a spot where the light is in front of you rather than behind you. A light behind you can put you in a shadow and make you hard to see.

4. Maximize your internet
Make it easy for your Telehealth program to perform without glitches. Close out other programs that utilize the internet like Facebook, Instagram, and Netflix. If possible, move close to your WiFi router.

5. Turn on Do Not Disturb
Like sessions in the office, your therapy time is just for you. Turn on the Do Not Disturb on your phone or otherwise shut off text or email notifications. The world can wait and you’ll want to give your session your full attention.

6. Consider using headphones
While not necessary for telehealth, headphones with a microphone give your session another layer of privacy. In addition, you may also like the improved sound quality.

7. Know your location
You’ll be asked at the start of the session for the address where you’re located. If you’re in your car, look for the address or landmark. If you’re at a hotel or friend’s home, take down the address prior to the appointment time.

8. Share your emergency contact
If your preferred emergency contact person has changed since your intake appointment, let your therapist know.

9. Shut off the picture-in-picture
Most Telehealth programs feature a picture-in-picture so you can see your therapist and also see yourself. Watching yourself can be super distracting. You can turn that feature off. Visit the quick guide in Simple Practice to learn more about how to use different features here.

10. Schedule a brief break after your session
Online therapy saves lots of time because you won’t be driving, parking, or waiting for your appointment time. However, you also won’t have the transition time in your car that you used to have after your session. Consider scheduling a 10-15 minute block of time to process, journal, meditate, or otherwise take a moment to breathe before returning to your regularly scheduled life.

Taking a moment to prepare you, your computer or phone, and your environment can help you get the most out of your online therapy session. If you need additional technical support, Simple Practice offers more tips on improving call quality.