It’s also entirely possible that the lack of privacy and other inconveniences outweigh the pros of therapy right now. If you think that now simply isn’t the best time for treatment, don’t ghost your therapist. Instead, you should…
2. Talk to your therapist about any worries you have regarding online therapy.
It’s entirely possible that what feels like an impossible challenge is workable. For instance, maybe you clam up when you hear your roommate’s footsteps. Chatting about this with your therapist—or admitting it in an email—might result in you and your therapist coming up with a “safe word” that you can use when you’d like to change the subject quickly.
Another thing to note: Your therapist’s WFH situation may be contributing to your discomfort. Maybe their cat is adorable but kind of distracting. Again, it’s okay to speak openly with your therapist if you feel that their WFH environment isn’t particularly safe or private. Honest communication can only make the therapeutic process stronger.
Gideon says client-therapist communication has been critical in figuring out what works for the client. Although being honest with your therapist can feel uncomfortable (it can be hard to say “this isn’t working for me”), it’s their job to hear that feedback and adjust, Gideon says. If you’re worried about starting the conversation, try something like, “I want to talk about something, but I’m worried it might offend you.” Your therapist is trained to talk about difficulties and challenges, even when they include the therapeutic relationship.
3. Be open with the people in your household if it’s safe to do so.
It can seem like you have to be the one to relocate during therapy sessions—it’s your therapy session after all—but if everyone in your house knows (and respects) therapy time, then maybe everyone can work together to find a compromise. For instance, one of Gideon’s teletherapy tips is to simply ask your partner to take a 45-minute walk while you have your session. Maybe this is a prime opportunity for your housemates to run an errand. The key is to broach the subject sensitively and work with your housemates to find a solution. You might say, “Hey, when I talk to my therapist, I tend to feel really vulnerable and would love a little extra privacy. Would you mind listening to a podcast with headphones on while I have my sessions?” If you don’t trust them to actually listen to one, you might ask them to leave for a bit. If this seems like a major inconvenience, maybe you can offer to do something for them in return (like make a promise to give them private time when they need it). And if you don’t feel comfortable asking that of them—it’s okay. It could be something worth processing with your therapist, Gideon says.
4. Consider a white noise machine.
If your housemates aren’t able to head out while you have therapy, there might be a few workarounds. White noise machines, for instance, are awesome to help you get to sleep or drown out the sounds of your partner working in the next room. But they’re also great tools for anyone doing therapy from home. Blake’s boyfriend is a therapist who uses a white noise machine to ensure his clients’ privacy. Think about grabbing a low-cost white noise machine and setting it up just outside the room where you’re doing therapy. It can give you some much-needed peace of mind.
5. Get creative about finding space that works for you.
We’re over a year into the pandemic, and many people have found their groove. “We got creative,” Gideon explains. Sometimes, that meant they would do phone calls instead of video calls. Other times, patients would sit in their cars while they talked to Gideon. The guidelines are flexible here, and you and your therapist should work to find what’s best for you. Gideon says some of her clients sit inside their closets to protect their privacy.
6. Build a ritual around online therapy.
If you’re feeling uncomfortable because other people are home during your session, setting up a ritual might help you ease into a therapeutic mindset. Chelsey H., 30, used to be irritated by the hour-long drive to her therapist’s office, but she now finds herself missing it. “It was dedicated time to put my thoughts in order on the way there and then after, to process,” she tells SELF. “Now we live in our workplace, so as soon as I’m done with therapy, it’s on to the housework … or back to working. There’s not really time to sit with my thoughts.”
If you used to drive to your therapist’s office and stop for coffee before parking and walking in, think about recreating a version of that at home. Brew a cup of tea, get your favorite blanket for comfort, and set up a comfortable space. This can help you transition in and out of therapy even when you’re not changing your physical location.
7. Know that your needs might change (and change again).
What you need to feel comfortable during therapy may change from one session to the next. What worked for you in March 2020 might not work for you in 2021, and that’s okay! Be open to your ever-evolving needs, and listen to what your body and mind are telling you. Gideon says she asks her clients, “Do we need to be flexible right now?” This question serves as a signal and an invitation to switch things up.