Over the recent months, many mental health care professionals have transitioned largely to teletherapy. Two of our therapists, Emily Prochaska, LPC and Hailey Palmer, LSW, connected over the phone to talk about how this transition has been going for them.
Okay, Emily, what has it been like to shift a large portion of your caseload over to teletherapy?
You know, most clients have been really receptive to moving to teletherapy and are happy to have a way to continue meeting. I’m really glad we have the options of both video and phone with teletherapy.
Oh yes, have you been using both options?
Yes, for sure. Video is obviously nice because you can see each other’s faces and notice body language - like if someone is more visibly tense or relaxed. But the phone has had its benefits too. For example, some teenagers have spent the whole day on video chats and online for school, so talking on the phone is nice for them because it gives them a break from their screen.
For sure. I’ve also noticed how focusing totally on listening while on the phone can be really helpful. You notice things you may not have noticed otherwise.
Yes, and sometimes it can be a nice break for people who are more self conscious not to have to worry about how they look during the meeting, but just on the conversation.
Yes, and I’ve also noticed that there is a little bit of a learning curve. For instance, it has taken me a little bit of time to just figure out my set-up at home, so that I’m comfortable and all of the technology is prepped running smoothly, including a backup plan if there are any technical difficulties during the session. I think I’m in a good flow now, but it took a bit of persistence to find the best system.
Yes, there is definitely a learning curve. Some things are a bit more challenging, like trying to maintain eye contact is tricky over video. And for clients, I know they sometimes have to get creative to find a good space to be for teletherapy. Most of all, you don’t get the full effect of the energy flow that you’d get in person. Teletherapy is a good tool, but I do look forward to seeing my teletherapy clients in person again.
What else have you noticed working over teletherapy?
I’m really impressed by how resilient our clients are. The fact that clients can adapt to this change and be flexible is awesome. I’m grateful for their determination to find a way to keep doing this work.
Totally, I love that. What has this time taught you as a therapist?
I’m just noticing all of the helping professionals adapting and coming together right now. Therapists and counselors are sharing resources and supporting one another. World renown mental health professionals are offering webinars and professional development events. Earlier this week, Bessel van der Kolk and Peter Levine offered this really helpful live stream about self-regulation.
Yes, I was at that webinar too! It was so, so useful.
Yes! It was full of helpful information and applicable resources and it just makes us all feel more connected during this time that is so physically disconnected. It’s inspiring to see that we can still work together to move the mental health profession and our clients forward.