How to prepare for an online therapy session

Many college students experience mental health issues. A recent survey from the American College Health Association reveals that 60% of college students feel overwhelming anxiety and that 40% are severely depressed. These issues affect students to the point that they find it difficult to function and perform daily activities.

While there are often mental health programs available on college campuses, the pandemic has made it much harder to seek help. Fortunately, alternative modes of community like online therapy are gaining popularity. You can reach out to mental health professionals from virtually anywhere with just the click of a button.

Before heading to your virtual appointment, however, you’ll want to make sure to note the following tips so that you get the most out of your session.

Prepare the physical space for your session

There are so many benefits to attending therapy sessions from the warmth of your home. Being in an environment that you’re comfortable in can help to reduce stress and anxiety. On the flip side, having sessions from home can mean there are distractions and interruptions abound, whether your roommates or the loud music coming from next door.

It is important to find a quiet and private space for yourself to maximize focus and concentration. In addition, you can use headphones to reduce any background noise. This will allow you to dedicate your full attention to your session.

Write down your symptoms beforehand

You want to provide your mental health professional with as much information as possible so that they can best understand your condition.

Before your session, write down any sudden and troubling changes you’ve been having in your behavior, even if you don’t think they’re related to your mental health. The most common symptoms that you may want to report to your mental health care provider could include mood swings, diet changes, shifts in sleeping patterns, and the use of any alcohol or drugs, among many other things. Make sure your list is comprehensive and specific. 

Unlike face-to-face sessions, it can be hard to make observations of your behavior through a screen. This is why your observations regarding your behavior and discussing them with your counselor are so crucial.

Write down all your questions

It’s easy to forget your questions or get derailed from asking them during your session. So make sure you have all your questions down on paper before the appointment begins. Be sure to have a pen and paper handy during the session itself, as well. Write down what your counselor says in response to your questions and make additional notes and questions throughout your session as needed.

Be ready to set follow-up appointments

Mental health counseling is a continuous process — so you can expect to set up subsequent appointments based on your needs and strategy for care. Determine the best days and times for you to schedule any additional follow-up appointments so that you can let your counselor know.

Online therapy is still a relatively new way of conducting counseling, but it does give us all easier access to much-needed mental health resources, so take full advantage of it. And take care of yourself!

This post was written for BetterMynd by Roberta Janine.