I’ve gone to therapy on and off for years but it wasn’t until the past month that I’ve tried virtual therapy. I personally feel in-person therapy is more beneficial for tackling demanding issues. It feels safer in a sense.
I’ve never wanted the sometimes challenging sessions to infiltrate the space that I live in, I need distance. So I always opted to go into an office and plop down on the therapist’s chair.
But COVID-19 has pushed me out of my comfort zone because my state currently has stay-at-home orders. My therapist asked if I wanted to cancel my upcoming sessions or transition to virtual sessions until the world gets back on its feet.
To be honest, my aversion to virtual therapy almost persuaded me to cancel my sessions. But since I’ve been making great progress in therapy recently, I felt I’d be doing myself a disservice by canceling.
Although I still much prefer in-person sessions, I’m learning to adapt and optimize my comfortability to a situation I’m not very comfortable doing. So here are some at-home practices I’ve put in place to make the best of a not-so-ideal circumstance.
1. Find an underutilized space
Therapy can get pretty heavy at times if you’re diving into past traumas, anxieties, or whatever it may be. I’m someone who is very spatially oriented. Certain spaces in my life are heavily associated with moods or activities. I try not to do work in bed because I don’t want to associate work or anxiety with relaxation.
So in the same vein, I didn’t want to have my therapy session is an area that is heavily associated with something else. For example, if I did my therapy session on my bed and it turned out to be a harder session I didn’t want my bed to be temporarily associated with those negative emotions.
So for my first session, I decided to log onto my therapy Zoom session on my patio, a space I very rarely utilize. I don’t have any major associations and if the session was more mentally draining, I wouldn’t have to interact with that space until my emotional hangover was cured.
So far, this has been helpful to curb the anxiety about tackling therapy in my home.
2. If you live with other people, ask for an hour or more of solitude
Every Tuesday night I have let my partner know I am going to need a portion of the apartment to myself. I’ve politely asked that he grabbed everything he needed from that area and situate himself in a different section of the apartment until I told him I was done.
Although I love my partner dearly, therapy is supposed to be a space to talk and explore things freely. There are certain topics I want a different perspective on or want to process more before I would go to him. There are also certain topics that are more personal or trivial that I want to remain private. Just as I don’t talk to my friends on speakerphone with him, I even more so want my therapy sessions to be private.
So I’ve given him a few hours heads up and asked that he gives me the space I need to have my session (which includes having a few walls in between us because our walls are so thin). I’m fortunate enough to have a partner who understands and is incredibly respectful of my request.
If you’re in a house or apartment situation where your roommates don’t know you go to therapy or it is not a safe enough environment to ask for an hour of solitude (or perhaps your partner would try to eavesdrop), if possible go for a walk. Bring your cellphone, headphones and have your therapy session outdoors (maybe even snag a bench).
3. Therapy is hard, give yourself a reward afterward
One of my traditions after therapy is to always reward myself with something small. That may be a Starbucks drink or going to Michael’s to buy new acrylic paint. It may even be something as small as making dinner before my evening session so I don’t have to cook when I get home. Either way, I try to treat myself because I know therapy is challenging and I’m proud of myself for staying dedicated.
With COVID-19 quarantining, I cannot exactly participate in retail therapy after a session because nothing is open. But I do still want to keep that tradition alive because the reward system works well for me.
So instead of going out and about to reward myself, I’ve tried to implement an at-home reward system. I baked a batch of cookies for me to indulge in after my session. I took a bath with one of those Lush bath bombs I have stored away for special occasions. I watched some of my guilty pleasure TV episodes. Especially since I don’t particularly enjoy virtual therapy sessions this tradition has become more important than ever.
With everything going on in the world right now, a routine is both super important but also hard to maintain. If you’re someone who has had to transition to virtual therapy because of quarantining, don’t be afraid to voice any concerns to your therapist. If it is causing you more anxiety than the therapy session would alleviate, consider skipping the next couple weeks.
Trial and error are important right now when it comes to figuring out what is good for your mental health. Do what is healthiest for you and try to find balance. Sending everyone good energy, stay healthy.