If you are curious about online counseling and wondering what to expect from it, here are six things that you can expect from your first online counseling session.
1. Completing online documents
Part of getting started with online therapy will be that you will be required to complete documentation 24-hours before your session begins. This allows for your clinician to be prepared for your first session and allows you to have some time to read our informed consent forms and for you to ask us any questions you may have in regards to our process and practice policies. We ask that you take your time to complete your intake forms and complete it as thoroughly as possible, so that during our first online session, we can jump right into what brought you to counseling and not have to spend time gathering background information. Of course we will eventually learn about background information that is relevant to your treatment.
2. Testing your connection the day of your online therapy session
Part of your intake forms will include a welcome packet which will guide you step-by-step on things that you can be doing to make sure that you have the best connection and make sure that you understand how to use our secure client portal. We encourage you to read this welcome packet and log into the client portal at least 5 to 10 minutes before your session start time, so that you can test your connection and your audio. At this point, if you're running into any kind of technical difficulties, we do ask that you email your clinician so that your clinician can get in contact with you and walk you through the best way to log in.
3. Reviewing important documents at the start of your session
At the start of your session your clinician will join in and review the informed consent forms and practice policies in regards to confidentiality, financial responsibility, your location for your tele-health session, your emergency contact, and reviewing how they work as a clinician. At any point during your session you are allowed to ask your clinician questions, as we want this to be a collaborative effort during your therapy journey.
4. Gathering information during your session
As your session continues, your clinician will be asking different types of questions to delineate your online therapy goals. If you are coming in as a couple, it is also during this time that your clinician will begin to start tracing and labeling your interaction cycle. With couples this part is something that will be referenced throughout the rest of your treatment, as it is a good reference point to understand the movement between you and your partner and how things are progressing. We will also be understanding other symptoms and other things that you want to be changing in your relationship or improve in your life.
During this time, we will be uncovering your strengths and your current healthy coping skills that we will be using at the beginning of your treatment as you begin to learn new coping skills and new relational skills. We understand that therapy can be a place to discuss what is challenging, but it is also a place to increase your confidence and self-esteem in yourself and acknowledge what you are already great at!
5. Summarizing your treatment plan at the end of your session.
Towards the end of your session your clinician will then provide you a summary as to what you will be working towards and what will be part of your treatment plan. This of course can change as sessions progress and as things continue to improve; however, this is just a good reference point for us to continue to look back on and for us to have a really good roadmap as to what we will be working towards in our future online sessions. This is something that many of our clients enjoy as we are able to track how you are improving in therapy.
It's also at this point to share with your clinician if anything big is missing that you will want to be focusing on. It's possible that we may not get to everything during the first session, so if something is not addressed please let your clinician know, so that this can be discussed during your next session.
At the end of the session, you will then have an opportunity to go ahead and schedule your next appointment. We do encourage you to go ahead and schedule your next online therapy session if possible. This will guarantee a time slot to meet with your clinician. Your clinician will be able to let you know the frequency of when you should be meeting.
6. Documentation and homework after your session
After your session, your clinician will create a treatment plan which will have the information that was gathered during your intake session and from your intake forms. If your clinician has assigned you any kind of homework or shares any kind of resources, you will receive an email with the link to the client portal which will allow you to download these resources.
Be prepared for the following but know that they are normal
It is completely normal to feel a little bit uneasy or perhaps even awkward. It's important to be able to identify this for yourself and simply note it. It is okay to share this with your clinician and to share what may be leading you to feel awkward or uncomfortable. It's possible that this could be due to the fact that you are finally sharing something that you haven't shared with anyone at all. It could also be the fact that you are talking to a screen or to your phone and it's a little bit non-traditional. If you feel like this is getting in the way of your counseling experience, it may be best that we refer you out to an in-person therapist. We do encourage you to give yourself some time to get used to therapy whether that is 2 to 4 sessions. Something else that helps with this is being consistent with your sessions, as familiarity can go a long way.
As your sessions progress, your follow-up sessions will often begin with your clinician summarizing where you left off in your previous session and trying to learn what has changed in-between sessions. Throughout the course of online therapy, we do ask for honesty and vulnerability and ask that this is a collaborative effort in which we encourage an open dialogue on what is working and not working.
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I specialize in working with couples and individuals to restore their relationships by utilizing research-based therapy techniques. Feel free to look at the online services offered through Modern Wellness Counseling and check out the client portal to conveniently schedule your next appointment.
I'm happy that you have found your way here, you will find information to help you gain insight on yourself and your relationship. Know that the information provided here is not a substitute for therapy. I specialize in working with couples and individuals who are pursuing to improve their relationships. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. You can also schedule your next session here! Follow me on Instagram and Facebook to receive other tips and advice on connecting with others and enhancing your life.