Online vs. Face-to-Face Therapy
I have been providing online therapy in limited cases since early 2019 and went to all online therapy on April 1, 2020 when Arizona issued the “Stay Home, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected” Order. As I began doing more therapy online, I quickly realized the limitations of this format. It is much harder to feel connected via any online forum. I found that my ability to understand, empathize and attune to my clients was hampered. Therapy moves at a slower pace under these conditions: the therapeutic relationship takes longer to deepen, trust takes more time to develop, insights are slower to come by, and progress, while it still happens, is not as fast as it could be. I began to think that there must be a better alternative.
I started reviewing what the guidelines for good social distancing are during this critical time and realized that I can see people in my office in a very safe way that would be much more conducive to good therapy than an online video chat. Here’s how it looks:
1) I am spacing my appointments out so there is never more than one client at my office at a time (or two, in the case of a couple), and so I have time to disinfect all contacted surfaces between clients.
2) I have replaced upholstered furniture with easily disinfected chairs with smooth, wipeable surfaces.
3) All payment is made via my online scheduler so no exchange of credit cards or money is required.
4) I have installed a very unobtrusive plexiglass shield that hangs between myself and my clients to safely allow us to be in the same room for an extended period of time. While this feels strange at first, I have found that it is quickly forgotten and therapy proceeds with connection and warmth.