Getting the Most out of Virtual Counselling in a Time of Fear And Isolation

The onset of the Coronavirus in late 2019 forced the world into varying degrees of isolation. In an attempt to better come to terms with the sudden “new normal”, we needed a new language to discuss the impact of the global pandemic. There were plenty of unlikely words and phrases that subsequently entered our daily vocabulary, such as socially distancing, quarantine, lockdown, and Zoom meetings to name a few. But most of them point to a lack of contact and physical connection.

With the isolation, and the restrictions, and the fear, and the anxiety, we have seen a significant rise in depressive disorders in North America. According to the NHIS, prior to the pandemic from January to June 2019, 1 in 10 adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder. On the other hand, during the pandemic there has been an increase to 4 in 10 adults who are struggling with these same symptoms.

Based on the above and a number of other studies, it is quite clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered what we have come to accept as normal. This has then led to many of us experiencing strong emotions we often feel ill-equipped to manage:

  • difficulty sleeping (36%)
  • difficulty eating (32%)
  • increases in alcohol consumption or substance use (12%)
  • worsening chronic conditions (12%)

There are a number of common reasons for seeking help from a psychotherapist, but there are also plenty of other instances where counselling could prove to be highly beneficial. Whether online psychotherapy or in-person sessions, knowing when it is necessary and advantageous to seek help is a great starting point.

Online therapy can feel a little strange, at first. Initially you may find it difficult to connect with your therapist through a screen, but if you persevere through those first few sessions, virtual counselling can prove to be a highly rewarding, not to mention convenient, form of therapy.

How to make the most of your virtual therapy sessions

  1. Location and time. First things first, identify a safe and comfortable space for you to engage with your therapist in. One of the perks of online therapy is that you can do it anywhere anytime – so set yourself up for success! You also want to make sure that you have carved out enough time, both before and after your session, to get the most out of it. Use the time you would have spent driving for example to get in the right zone.
  1. Embrace the uniqueness of virtuality. Because online therapy is accessible in a different way, there are quite creative ways to integrate it into your daily life. For instance, you can be surrounded by objects in the environment you choose to have your session that could aid your therapist. Even being able to grab a quick photo to better describe someone you are talking about or jot down something that resonates with you on a piece of paper near you is a bonus.
  1. Without physical cues, practice naming your emotions. Those who have been in in-person therapy may have experienced their therapists observing their bodily cues and facial expressions to identify their emotional state. Our therapists ability to “read” us could lead us to become lazy with sitting with and understanding our own emotions. But learning to pick up on how we are really feeling is a useful skill in self-awareness that online therapy indirectly enables us to work on.
  1. Express your needs. Covid-19 has left most of us with a sense of loss. During Covid many clients have reported feeling that their most fundamental human needs have not been met. However, when they put words to what those are – loneliness, apathy, lacking motivation, struggling to stay healthy – it seems to sound “ridiculous” to them and they invalidate their emotions. Remember in therapy, there is no issue too big or too small. Anything that is impacting you is worth talking about!
  1. Provide honest feedback. As with everyone, even your therapist is a human being and will get it wrong from time to time. A lot of therapists who are shifting to the online space are also relatively new, which means there will certainly be growing pains along the way. As you both experiment with online therapy, feedback will be essential. Keep communication with your therapist open and transparent. 

Where to look for virtual counselling services in Kitchener

It can feel overwhelming to find the best online counselling services and therapist to suit you and your requirements. The instinct is to first connect in-person with the human we will be our most vulnerable selves with, and then possibly move into an online space further down the line once trust has been established. This is a natural and common instinct of course. 

But the blessing of Covid-19 is that it has forced highly reputable counsellors and psychotherapists to provide an online option and make their services more accessible to the masses.

COCA Psychotherapy counselling services in Kitchener, Waterloo have a team of dynamic psychotherapists whose focus is to empower individuals to reach their desired level of self-fulfillment. They go about this process through a collaborative and non-judgmental approach.

They have certified and highly experienced therapists who specialize in  family counselling, both group and individual counselling, couples counselling online, and online counselling for depression and anxiety throughout Ontario, Newfoundland & Labrador, and Nova Scotia.

Reaching out for support is one of the hardest steps – so we are so happy that you are reading this! Feel free to contact us here to book an appointment or give us a call on 226-336-5787 for a free consultation over the phone.

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