Seven Ways To Make the Delivery of Online Treatment More Successful
Today’s realities of pandemic-based care, limited access to proper treatment in rural areas, and the rise of technology have created many hurdles and great opportunities for clinicians around the United States. While in-person care delivery is more complex than ever, technology has made remote care as easy as a few clicks. However, any clinician or client will attest that care isn’t the same when delivered on video. So how do we make sure that we as clinicians give our very best to each client? Following are a few strategies to help make that happen:
- When possible, conduct your sessions by video. Doing a video session versus a phone call allows the client to better connect with you. Further, you must see their facial expressions, allowing for more context when asking questions and receiving answers. It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and video is worth even more.
- Try to find a warm and inviting setting to conduct your calls. Having a plain background with harsh lighting does not help put the client at ease. If your office has pictures on the wall and mood lighting, use these to your advantage, allowing the client to feel more comfortable fostering trust and honesty.
- Bring other people into the mix. If providing care for someone in a rural community or someone who does not have support groups readily available at home, consider online group sessions (with proper consent). Groups are essential in allowing clients to feel like they are not alone and letting them know that others with the same concerns and problems exist and are willing to talk and share.
- Try to set a consistent time and day of the week for each session. Consistency is essential for a client who is not physically in the treatment center. This provides them with structure and forces them to be responsible and show up to their meetings.
- Make time for yourself. It is easy to cram in ever more meetings and appointments when you move online. After all, now you can take sessions from the comfort of your own home, or anywhere you happen to be. But resist the temptation to do so. Remember that clinician burnout is very real, and not giving yourself the time to wind down between sessions can be detrimental. If you want to add a session or two during the day, do so when you would have otherwise been commuting rather than adding additional sessions early in the morning or late at night.
- Remember that the therapeutic process doesn’t change. Your obligations to the client remain the same whether you’re face-to-face or online. You must keep proper documentation; all ethical, professional, and legal responsibilities stay the same. Be sure to follow all protocols regardless of where you are and how you deliver the care.
- With pandemic-related stress and fatigue, be aware that our clients’ physical and psychological problems may be accentuated or exacerbated. It may be harder to notice patterns of behavior via video versus in person, so take extra care when evaluating your clients
With these tips in mind, we hope that the new realities of treatment benefit both your practice and your clients. Of course, we are here for you for your certification and continuing education needs. Please get in touch with us to see how we can help you achieve your professional addiction counseling goals.