The COVID-19 restrictions have disrupted all parts of society, but perhaps none more so than mental health workers. Even outside of pandemic times, giving therapy is a deeply personal occupation that requires the creation of a space where individuals can freely share their most troubling thoughts. The absence of physical closeness is a severe hindrance to this idea, but we have some suggestions to cultivate the best possible remote CBT space.
Aesthetics are still crucial
While your clients may not physically be in the same room as you, they will still be conscious of the space you are working from. As such, the same guidance still applies for cultivating a comfortable interior design. A clean room with soft furnishings is a must, and a color scheme that promotes calmness (think light blues and greens) can work wonders in adjusting your client to online therapy. Depending on your living space, this can be difficult, so it’s important to remember that the camera only displays what you want it to. If this means creating a ‘set’ of sorts in one corner of the room that simulates your usual office space, then that can be enough.
It is difficult to acclimatize yourself to the work-from-home mindset. We associate our homes with freedom, and with freedom comes the temptation to fidget or distract ourselves. It’s imperative to remove any distractions for the full length of the session (within reason). Keep your phone and gadgets out of reach, and make sure the only things on your screen are your client and their resources. While emergencies will always arise, do your best to stop family or housemates from interrupting, as once this sense of privacy has been broken it is difficult to rebuild.
Remember, it is still a two-way street
Any advice you follow goes equally for your client. Work with them to make sure the area they call you from is one where they will be comfortable and unguarded. Gently check that they will be free from distractions and always be flexible in this tumultuous time.
Creating a digital space that encourages a positive mindset is challenging. However, with the right precautions and reassurances, you can establish just the same rapport with your client online as you had in person.