As a therapist, it is comforting and relieving to talk to your patients face-to-face. You can see their reactions, observe their body language, and even spot symptoms and concerns you might want to check later.
The problem is, the coronavirus pandemic is here. To minimize the risk of getting the disease, the UK government strongly emphasizes practicing social distancing. Worse, this health crisis can force people with anxiety or depression to skip office appointments because of fear.
As a therapist, you can help, and you can begin by learning how to bring your service from the office to the Internet. Here are some tips on how to do it:
1. Learn the Basics of Online Sessions and Consultations
Shifting from the office to the Internet doesn’t change the fact that you still have rules to follow. These include protecting the patient’s privacy or ensuring you prescribe the right medications to them. Let’s not forget the transition process might not be easy for you, especially if you’re not tech-savvy.
Thus, before you do it, learn the basics. As a good measure, consider viewing some psychology training videos. You can find courses that focus on online therapy or different strategies applicable during virtual sessions.
2. Define Your Requirements
First, mode of communication: do you want to use email or video or both? Note that not all patients might be comfortable with video sessions.
If you want to pursue video consultations, decide on the best platform. Thankfully, you have many good options now, such as Zoom or Google Meet. You can also invest in health-driven secure apps.
Then there’s the speed of the Internet. The broadband speed in the UK has significantly improved from 52 Mbps in 2019 to 64 Mbps in 2020, according to Ofcom. However, your patient might be outside the country where the Internet is less stable or slower. You might then shift to another form of communication, such as combining email with regular phone calls.
3. Ensure Compliance
Remember the saying ‘Out of sight, out of mind’? One of the biggest challenges with a virtual consultation or appointment is compliance. It could be easier for your patient to skip it or, worse, disappear completely. They can become less committed to the therapy plan because other activities could keep them preoccupied at home.
You can prevent these from happening with these ideas:
- Set a regular schedule for each patient. You can also assign activities they can do in between and create milestones. This way, both of you can track their progress.
- Determine the possible barriers to compliance. A patient can be non-compliant for a variety of reasons. These can include age, other pre-existing health conditions, income, attitude towards the therapy, and their relationship with the therapist.
- Celebrate the wins. For many patients, their therapy program can feel long and lack progress, and this belief can demotivate them. You can avoid that by learning how to celebrate ‘wins.’ A good example is sending them a care package.
Now, more than ever, your patient needs you. More people require your help. Fortunately, you already have the tools and the technology to bring your office to the Internet more conveniently and quickly.