Virtual Therapy Kind of Sucks. Here’s How to Make It Better


VICE spoke to certified therapists Rebecca Cowan and Molly Carmel about ways to make video or phone therapy as smooth as possible. Here’s what they suggest.

Approach virtual therapy with realistic expectations.

Go in your first virtual appointment knowing it will likely be very different than an in-person session. But openly communicating with your therapist about the difference can make it work for you.

Find a private space for your appointments.

If you feel like you can’t speak freely, ask housemates to put on noise cancelling headphones, listen to a podcast or music, or leave to complete their essential errands. Also, playing white noise can offer an additional layer of privacy.

Speak up if your sessions aren’t feeling helpful.

Therapists can’t read minds - let them know if it’s not working so they can come up with a solution. If you’re really missing the in-person connection, consider starting each session with a grounding technique together, like deep breathing.

Know that it’s totally reasonable if coronavirus talk dominates your session right now.

There’s no “right” or “wrong” way to talk about coronavirus in therapy. Being honest about your feelings and figuring out how to establish a routine are important topics to delve into with your therapist.

If you’re a “high risk” patient, work with your therapist to put additional support in place.

For those dealing with suicidal ideation, eating disorders, and substance abuse disorders, switching to virtual therapy can be especially challenging. Work with your therapist to create an “action plan” for when you experience suicidal thoughts.

Explore joining virtual group therapy

You can ask your therapist for suggestions. Groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous are also putting virtual meetings in place.

If virtual therapy just isn’t working, that can be a legitimate reason to consider breaking it off or putting it on pause.

It’s okay if virtual therapy doesn’t feel right! Just be honest with your therapist about what’s not working - whether it’s the time, the money or the treatment.

Know that it’s not too late to start therapy

Many therapists are accepting new clients. Asking for referrals from friends’ therapists is a great place to start.

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