As COVID has swept across the globe, its brought major change and uncertainty for all of us in many aspects of our lives. We’re finding new ways to juggle life and adapt, both personally and professionally. Whether it’s working from home or rescheduling future plans, it’s challenging to find a sense of freedom and routine in the new ‘normal’. Change isn’t always easy and for many people it can be an overwhelming experience.

With Sydney experiencing its second lockdown since the beginning of the pandemic, and with more cases and exposure sites being added to the list every day, it looks as if we could be navigating stay-at-home restrictions for a little while longer. 

In the world of psychology, lockdown means that for the first time we’ve not been able to see clients in person. But thanks to technology, mental health support is more accessible than ever before. Even though telehealth is a new space, it brings many positive changes, as virtual sessions become a wonderful option of support

Making the shift as health professionals hasn’t come without questions and concerns like, “Would we be able to build rapport with current and new clients?” or “Is it still possible to create a safe and connected emotional space online?”

As it turns out, you can! Your mental health doesn’t have to suffer just because you can’t physically attend a therapy session.

The Benefits of Telehealth

Despite the many adjustments we’re facing in a post COVID world, it’s clear that we have an amazing capacity to adapt, and with it has come some pleasantly surprising benefits. Some of the positive changes we’re seeing with the introduction of telepsychology include:

Convenience – Scheduling a video call or phone call is much easier than organising a time to turn up in person. Being able to speak to a trusted professional, regardless of where a client may be located, allows for help and connection to be available anywhere, anytime. 

Consistency and Continuity –  Finding the right psychologist to speak with and being comfortable in opening up can take a lot of time and trust. Building rapport with clients is a vital aspect of therapy. Telehealth provides a space, regardless of circumstances or location, to continue developing the client-therapist relationship and therapeutic progress. 

Connection – Restrictions and lockdowns on both a community and global level leave many of us feeling isolated. We can be far removed from family, friends and human connection. But telehealth provides an alternative way of connecting and is just as effective as face-to-face therapy for private practice.

Accessibility – Help truly is just one phone call away. An internet connection or a simple phone line is all that you need to speak with someone, and with the exponential improvements in technology, most of us are able to make a connection from anywhere in the world. 

Availability – Increased available times for both clients and psychologists.

Time Saving – Gone are the days of disrupting or cutting into work, factoring in travel time or finding a park. Telepsychology gives you your time back.

Decreasing the spread of COVID – Lockdown or no lockdown. Vaccine or no vaccine. The beauty of a virtual face-to-face telehealth session means we can be anywhere in the world, at any point in time and the potential for exposure is nil. 

Comfort – Whether it be from the comfort of your own home, your car or just a private space in which you sense a little bit of solitude, telepsychology gives you the freedom to choose what location or outfit makes you feel safe and at ease.

How To Make the Most Out of Your Telehealth Session

Preparation 

Preparing yourself and your space before your session brings a sense of calm and security. Get comfortable in your space, make yourself a hot cup of tea or glass of water beforehand to bring to session, wear something you feel comfortable in, there is no need to dress up for your psychologist, and have your telehealth link open on your phone, computer or iPad a couple of minutes earlier to give yourself the time to settle in. 

Privacy

Finding a quiet place to talk is also a vital component in feeling safe enough to share so set yourself up in a room or an area where you will be granted the privacy you need. If you share a space with others or someone else is home at the time, let them know you have an important meeting and need not to be disturbed, and please use headphones.

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