If you are looking to do online therapy with a psychologist or other type of therapist, you may be asking yourself how to go about doing this since remote therapy is not the traditional way that therapy is performed.
And with the recent social distancing and quarantining measures due to COVID-19, panic has set in with many therapy clinics, psychologists and therapists in Montreal. Most are just making the jump to offering services through the internet or by phone due to COVID-19.
Internet-based therapy is not the same as therapy that takes place in-person. In general, therapists are not trained during their studies to perform therapy remotely. As a result, this is a skill that we acquire through experience.
I remember that it took me up to 6 months to be comfortable doing therapy online. Not only where there technological hurdles, but providing therapy at a distance is different than in-person and takes time to develop with experience. I am happy for the experience of providing online therapy for many years, as I feel it has made me a better psychologist.
During online sessions, I now actually forget that I am connecting with the person remotely and feel like the person is right in front of me in my office.
Internet-based therapy has also improved my ability to form a therapeutic alliance with my clients, and improved my ability to pick up on subtle cues such as eye contact and non-verbal behaviour, all of which have helped me become a more effective psychologist.
So here are the factors to consider when selecting the best therapist to match your needs:
Does the specialist have any experience providing therapy online?
This is simple to assess. Just simply ask the question? If they have just transitioned to providing therapy online in the last months due to COVID-19, this may not be an area of expertise that they have acquired.
Does the psychologist or therapist have a track record of being helpful?
This is another factor that is quite easy to evaluate.
Just look at reviews and testimonials from site like RateMDs and Google Reviews. Another independent site is 3-Best Rated Psychologists, which I am happy to be a part of.
Consulting independent sites will maximize the chance that the reviews are authentic and genuine. It is always great to get the recommendation and opinions from people who have had experience with the specialist. A good sample is probably about 20 or more reviews. If you cannot find any reviews, you might want to focus on the psychologist who received feedback.
Consider the therapeutic approach
Chances are you likely do not want to spend years and years in therapy. This is especially the case with the constraints due to COVID-19.
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) is scientifically-validated, practical, results-driven and aims to be short-term rather than long-term. This will ensure you do not spend years in just 'talk therapy' that does not lead to change.
Some additional psychotherapy approaches you may want to consider are Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) or Mindfulness Meditation and Positive Psychology. All these approaches are also based on scientific evidence.
Is the specialist a Licensed Psychologist or Psychotherapist
To provide psychotherapy in Quebec, the professional you are considering needs to be licensed. You can do this by consulting the directory of professionals of l'Ordre des psychologues du Quebec.
Did you receive a quick call back or reply email?
Did you get a quick return call if you left a message or receive an email within 24 hours?
I try to have a policy of returning messages within 24 hours (except on weekends).
People say they really appreciate when they receive a quick reply as it shows them that the professional is there to help them. This is especially true during COVID-19 and all the stress and anxiety it is causing us.
The hurdles involved scheduling an appointment
Is difficult to schedule an appointment? Did you speak to a receptionist and not a Psychologist?
Did you have to go through a long screening process, complete numerous questionnaires before seeing a Psychologist?
Many people have told me that they really appreciated getting a call directly from me rather than from a receptionist. They reported that they felt like their needs were important, that they could trust that all the information they provided was confidential and that they could connect with me right away.
Was the Psychologist warm and genuine with you?
Having a strong therapeutic alliance with a Psychologist or Therapist is the best predictor of therapeutic change.
Much research has identified that a strong alliance between the client and psychologist is one that is warm, genuine and non-judgmental.
Did you feel this when you listened to their voice message or when you spoke to them directly or when you consulted their website?
What is your overall impression and feeling?
Do you feel that you felt you could trust the Psychologist? This is obviously very important for anyone.
Here are a few quick indications that the Psychologist is there to help based on what clients have reported:
- They provided a brief 10-15 phone consultation in order to assess whether they were the right psychologist, to answer your important questions, or to direct you to the appropriate resource?
- Many people value when the Psychologist has a Psychotherapy Blog that actually provides some helpful advice and things they can try rather than a Blog that is generic and that does not provide any specific help or information.
- In my practice, I provide additional tools free of charge. Numerous free Self-Help Toolkits are available on my website that people have stated they really appreciate.
People prefer a Psychologist that measures progress
People have really appreciated when their progress has been tracked and measured.
Not only will you ‘feel better’ but you will have an objective way of quantifying your achievements in therapy. For example, being able to say “My symptoms have decreased by 75% over the past month” is more meaningful to people than just saying “I feel better in general”.
Simply ask the specialist how they will assess your therapeutic progress.
I hope that you have found these tips helpful in your search.
You follow this link to learn more about the: ABCs of Video Counselling.
Feel free to Contact Me by filling out the form below for any questions or to schedule an appointment.