Tips For Your First Telehealth Session
Written by: Raquel Martinez, MSW
Nervous about your first therapy session? Unsure of what to expect? Do not know what to share? Wondering if it will be awkward to open up – especially via telehealth? All those feelings are completely normal and valid! The truth to the matter is that you will be meeting with a stranger and will talk about things that perhaps you have never shared with anyone else before. It is not easy and no one fully prepares you for the first session.
Know that the feelings you are feeling are completely normal and valid. Here are a few quick tips to help you feel a little more prepared for your first session:
1. Write things down! Do you ever think of various concerns you want to address with your physician during your annual checkup and then it so happens that during your appointment you forget to bring up some of those concerns? Well, it happens to all of us and it is the same with therapy! Write down things you want to bring up during your session and keep it handy during session so that it is easy for you to refer back to it.
2. Be Comfortable. Your therapist wants you to feel at ease during session! Prepare your space so that it feels comfortable for you (i.e with blankets and pillows, water, tea, tissues, etc).
3. This is ‘You’ Time. Try to create a “safe space”, if possible try to go somewhere quiet and private. Remember that it is your session and it is about you!
4. Be Honest. It’s okay to tell your therapist if you are feeling nervous. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous and your therapist will understand. Meeting somebody in a new environment and in a new way can sometimes throw us off and lead to feelings of discomfort and anxiety. Any reservations or concerns you might have are very normal, and actually great starting points to discuss during your first session.
5. Test your device (i.e. mobile phone, laptop) and the platform/links your therapist uses to meet with you. Double-check any links you received for the session, and test your audio and camera in advance. If you need any assistance, be sure to ask the office or your therapist for advice. Let your therapist know if you’re experiencing any technical difficulties (i.e., unable to hear them or see them).
6. Breathe. It’s important to try and relax before the session. Take deep breaths. Diaphragmatic breathing, belly breathing or abdominal breathing is a type of breathing exercise at the center of meditation practice. It is known to help manage a wide-range of health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and sleeplessness. It helps to lower your heart rate, blood pressure and above all, reduces levels of stress.
Remember that it generally takes time before you start to feel comfortable around anyone new, including your therapist. Just because it might feel uncomfortable or awkward at first, doesn’t mean it always will be. Trust the therapeutic process!
Written By: Raquel Martinez, MSW, Registered Associate Clinical Social Worker 91884 under the supervision of Nancy Ruiz-Barnes, MSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker 79552