As a teletherapist, someone who provides mental health services over the phone or via video, you’re likely seeing an influx of students in your client base. In general, the pandemic has led to a surge in teletherapy. For students, it’s been a stressful couple of years with its fair share of chaos and monotony. Fortunately, teletherapy can provide a hybrid solution of at-home and school-based digital services that help young people deal with important life transitions, manage mental health symptoms (e.g., anxiety or depression), and improve their overall well-being.
Here are four ways to help students continue their teletherapy success at home:
For teletherapy to be effective, students need access to secure internet, reliable digital devices, and safe, private spaces to engage. For clients from undeserved or vulnerable communities, this is not always possible. Consider starting a partnership with a community organization in your area that could provide safe spaces for kids and young adults to attend virtual therapy sessions. Examples of these kinds of spaces include community centers, community colleges, or libraries.
As therapists, especially those who haven’t participated in the telehealth space before, it’s vital to do your own ongoing research. Be sure that the communication platform you opt to use is compliant with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). The public has valid concerns about breaches in security, so you need to take every step to minimize that risk and assuage their concerns.
Research says that when students have choices, they’re more motivated. The same is true in relation to their mental health and emotional well-being. In a world where their choices seem to be disappearing, give them autonomy and a voice. For example, provide options for exercises at the start of each session. Encourage them to tell you if they want to lead the conversation somewhere new.
Just like teachers have been forced to get extra creative to keep their students engaged in digital classrooms, teletherapists have the same opportunity. If possible, change your environment and make use of physical props. Encourage them to work in workbooks, read books, and engage with their physical environment as well. You’re working at the disadvantage of being in two totally different places: it’s difficult but worth it to change or update the long-held routines that may have worked for you in the past.