Virtual Therapy Sessions - How to Create Privacy in Your Home
Over the last few weeks, news about the rising spread of COVID-19 across the globe has lead to a sudden halt to life as we have known it. Growing uncertainty, increased anxiety, and for many, a quick shift in our daily routines has left us establishing a new normal with no end in sight. As therapists, we have been challenged to deliver services in new and creative ways in an effort to support our clients. While Virtual Online Therapy is not new, it has not been the preferred (or most ideal) method of treatment for the majority of my clients. Most people are already familiar with platforms such as FaceTime and Skype but a therapy session can seem quite different if you are used to meeting face-to-face, or your preference is to share the same physical space as your therapist. As a result, this has lead to an adjustment for so many individuals, not only in how we meet, but also in how this process unfolds as you access therapy in your own home. For those who are complying with social distancing, this may mean that you are now meeting with your therapist in a room in your home with family members, partners, or roommates in very close proximity. NOT IDEAL! Having said this, there are a variety of ways that can help make this process as private as possible. Here are some tips to create privacy in your home for your therapy session during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Use a Private Device - Be sure to use a device that will not be needed by someone else throughout the duration of your session. If your laptop or tablet is a device that other members of your home use, let them know that it will be off limits for the time you are “in session”. Set your notifications to “Do Not Disturb” so that you are not interrupted by texts or notifications. Make sure your device is fully charged before your session begins!
Check Your Bluetooth Connection - Before your session begins, go into the settings of your device and disconnect it from any bluetooth speakers or units. This is especially important if your device normally syncs to your vehicle once it is turned on. If someone in your home goes into your car while you are in session, the bluetooth will automatically connect to the audio and you will no longer have privacy.
Find a Private Space in Your Home - This may require some creativity! When possible, ask anyone in your home to offer you some space for the time you will be in session. This might mean that if the room you have chosen has a shared wall with someone else in your home, you can ask that they spend their time in another space.
Soundproofing - This may sound like an involved process but it may be as simple as playing music outside of the door/hallway of the space that you have chosen for your session. If you have several options of rooms to chose from in your home, try choosing a space with carpeting or rugs and a space with more on the walls as this can often buffer the acoustics of the room and cause less sound to travel.
Headphones and Earbuds - Using headphones or earbuds will ensure that you are the only person hearing what your therapist is saying. If you chose to use wireless earbuds or headphones, be sure they are charged before your session.
Share Your Plan - If the people in your home are aware that you plan to meet with your therapist, ask that they respect your privacy and avoid interrupting for the hour. Consider adding a sign to the door for a visual reminder.
Get Outside - Your therapist may be indoors sitting in front of their laptop or device for the duration of your session BUT that does not mean that you have to! Getting outside is important now more than ever. Consider taking your device outside for a walk-and-talk session. Another alternative is talking in your vehicle while it is in the driveway OR after you’ve taken a drive, if this is the only way for you to find privacy. *Be sure to consider the same privacy measures around bluetooth connections if you chose to stay in your car while it is in the driveway as it may connect to devices inside your home.
Use a Privacy Compliant Platform - In Ontario, teletherapy platforms must adhere to the established privacy legislation known as PHIPA (Personal Health Information Protection Act). Ask your therapist if they are using a platform that complies with the required privacy legislation.
Restart Your Device - With the influx of new teletherapy users on various platforms, servers are struggling to maintain connectivity so technical difficulties have unfortunately caused some interruptions in sessions. Restart your device prior to your session and this may prevent any interference in your appointment so that you can stay on track and stick to the more important matters within your session.
Reach out! If you are still unsure about how to make this process work for you, do not hesitate to reach out directly to your therapist to discuss your options. What works for some does not always work for others. Connect today!
-Be safe, stay at home!