Have you ever felt frazzled five minutes before a teletherapy session? Like, you don’t know where you’re gonna set up your computer. Once you finally find a place you can’t find your charging cord. By the time the session is supposed to start, you can’t even remember what you’re supposed to be talking to the client about!
With a simple system, you can show up to each of your appointments on time and prepared to walk your client through a healing conversation.
After working with countless online therapists these are what we have found to be the five primary building blocks to a pre-session checklist:
Set up your location
Knowing where you’re going to have your session and having previously tested the lighting and internet connection can save you a lot of time and help you be present for your client. When choosing or creating a spot to meet with your client here are the things you want to include:
- Minimalist background
- Good internet connection (anything that will stream youtube videos or Netflix)
- Good lighting (pro tip: anywhere near a window usually works well)
- Desk to set your computer on
- A private setting where other people will not overhear your conversation
If you don’t have one place you meet with your clients all the time, pack a bag with everything you need so that when it’s time to have a session you can grab the bag and go to a quiet and undisturbed place.
You’re not just a therapist when you work online and operate your own practice. You have a life, physical needs, and administrative tasks to keep your practice going. Not only that you’re a human and deserve to be taken care of in the same way you would encourage your clients to care for themselves. Here are a few things a lot of therapists wish they had considered before creating their first schedule:
- When and how often do I want to eat?
- How much time do I need to eat?
- When am I going to enter my notes for each session?
- How much time does it take for me to record session notes?
- Do I want to walk around and stretch my legs between sessions?
- How much time does it take for me to prepare for each session?
- When will I prepare for each session?
- About how much time does it take to take care of administrative tasks?
- When do I want to do my administrative tasks?
Just because you can schedule your sessions back to back or at 5-minute intervals doesn’t mean you need to. What if you scheduled them fifteen minutes or even thirty minutes apart? How much mental space would that give you to show up for your next client with even more to offer them?
Remember you are in charge of your energy and your schedule. Don’t give it all away because you scheduled your appointments too close together.
Outline for session
Being prepared for a session helps you guide your client and also provides a framework to follow tangents as your client needs.
- Review past client notes.
- Be prepared to ask about progress on previous conversations.
- Set a goal for the conversation.
- Prepare a few questions to walk toward the goal.
- Be prepared with worksheets or homework.
- What videos, activities, or teaching points might you want to incorporate.
- Have tabs or resources prepared for an activity you might want to walk through.
A lot of therapists find that having a simple structure for each conversation helps them guide the conversation, stay on time, and provide a safe space for their clients. This can be as simple as beginning the conversation discussing homework or goals set at the previous session, digging into any blockers, moving understanding new challenges, and finally setting new goals.
You have the power and opportunity to show up to your sessions feeling peaceful and prepared. Thinking ahead and making a system so that you aren’t reinventing the wheel every time you meet with a client will help you do that, not to mention save time and help you stay on time.
If you need a reliable online telehealth video platform or a secure platform for client notes and processing payment schedule a call with us! We’re in the business of making your practice simple and are happy to customize a package that supports you as you support others.