When our practice went entirely remote in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we admittedly weren’t entirely sure how offering solely teletherapy and online therapy sessions would go, even though we held sessions via the phone and video chat previously. Thankfully, we were pleasantly surprised that the transition has been smooth for both our patients and therapists. We have, however, had to navigate some troubleshooting in practicing therapy virtually rather than in our Downtown offices. Using what we’ve learned, Tribeca Therapy is featured in an article in both INSIDER and Business Insider on how to get the most out of your remote therapy sessions while in quarantine.
Speaking to writer Julia Naftulin, our Founder and Clinical Director Matt Lundquist explains that while video therapy sessions aren’t an exact replacement for in-person therapy: “…in terms of the medium [of virtual therapy] being an obstacle, I think nobody that I can think of has objected to that or found it to be a challenge.” Patients have used video therapy to not only address the uncertainty and instability of living during a pandemic, but also continue the work they had been doing in sessions before sheltering in place.
One aspect of video therapy that both therapists and patients are learning to navigate is how to use body language as cues to direct a conversation remotely. In person, it’s easier to tell when someone is ready to stop or start talking, but virtually, these transitions have to be more deliberate. Matt mentions using hand gestures, as well as the mute and unmute buttons on video chat platforms like Zoom. “[That] feature is kind of helpful because you can see visually when somebody’s using that, [it’s their way] of subtly and politely acknowledging that they’d like to talk, that they’re gearing up to speak,” he observes.
Matt also emphasizes not being afraid to interrupt. Even if it may have felt rude in an office, some interruption is necessary now on video chat: “Folks who might in different circumstances be offended by interrupting are becoming more appreciative of the fact that interruption is tricky to navigate.”
In addition, if you find yourself with a therapist who isn’t so tech-savvy, don’t hesitate to suggest using a video chat platform rather than simply the phone. Not only can this improve the help you’re receiving in the short-term, but it can also be a way to speak up and own your own therapy even after quarantine. As Matt says, “I think in general, the community of therapists haven’t necessarily done a great job of really empowering patients to take ownership of like, ‘This is your therapy and if you’re not getting what you need, you should speak up about it.’”