If your client has never been in mental health therapy before, the experience can be daunting, mysterious, and perhaps even frightening. She may wonder, what do you talk about? Is she allowed to be completely honest? How long will it take to get better? Those with online therapy jobs can be very helpful, right from the onset of therapy by following some simple rules.
1. Have an Order of Operations
Although it may seem awkward, it is best for those with online therapy jobs to handle all of the business at the session’s beginning. The “business” includes scheduling, insurance, payment and other technicalities and logistics necessary for the therapy to proceed smoothly. Otherwise, this may need to be dealt with later at a more sensitive moment with disastrous consequences.
Then the clinician should inquire about any issues the client may be having with the therapist. Leaving these unresolved may impact any future clinical effectiveness. If the previous session ended with a question or concern, this must be addressed before proceeding. Believe it or not, often when the client confronts the clinician, this strengthens the therapeutic bond.
2. Encourage Your Client To See The Session as a Collaborative Effort
Effective therapy is an interactive process. The client needs to be helped to participate as much as possible. Encourage your client to ask questions during the session, and after the session to “do the homework” and take the supplementary reading seriously.
3. Create Comfort and Be Poised to Exploit Opportunity
Those with online therapy jobs need to constantly encourage their clients to express themselves without inhibition, as this is the best way to ensure long-term progress. Your client needs to be relieved of the fear of appearing impolite or of your negative judgment. A successful client is not one who is always behaving, but rather one who is exerting herself to be genuine and real.
You will often find that the client’s deeper issues will become revealed inadvertently in the course of the session. These “revelations” can be of great therapeutic benefit as it will allow you, the therapist, to identify the problem in experiential rather than conceptual terms. Once you can connect with the client in this way, it is often easier to suggest ideas and teach necessary skills.
4. Help Your Client to Set Markers for Change
It is crucial that the clinician helps the client establish attainable goals with clear markers along the way. Tracking progress will motivate and energize the client. These aims and markers can be in most any realm––be it attitudinal, emotional or behavioral. The markers are like signs on the highway: they indicate your direction and are constantly reinforcing the forward movement.
5. Help Your Client Beyond the Sessions
There is work for your client to do between sessions. While a typical session lasts less than an hour, the client’s mentality needs to be that the therapeutic process is 24/7. Journals can be very helpful in this regard, as they help the client pay attention to their thoughts and feelings throughout the week, encourage reflection of the previous session, and help prepare for the next.
On a related note, it is imperative that your client “protect” the therapeutic process by drawing boundaries as to with whom she will share. The key is to avoid communicating with those who increase stress, offer unhelpful advice, or reduce the trust and confidence in the therapist. If the client isn’t careful, your job may not only become more complicated, but undermined completely.
The Dual Role of Those with Online Therapy Jobs
Those who heal others through their online therapy jobs need to see their role as going beyond being an excellent therapist. They need to help their client become amazing in her role as well.