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8 Reasons Virtual Therapy Hasn’t Worked for Me During COVID-19

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We’ve all had to make sacrifices during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Although many people have had to make more major alterations to their lives, the main one I’ve struggled with is not being able to go to in-person therapy sessions. Because I’m in Southern California, a lot of restrictions are still in place, which means I’m not sure when my in-person appointments can actually resume.

I’ve been really lucky that my therapist is offering virtual therapy with Zoom appointments. Without these sessions, I would be in even more dire straits with my depression, anxiety and complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD). But I’ve learned during the last few months that although I can make virtual therapy work to some degree, I’ll probably always be someone who needs in-person treatment to feel fully supported.

Not meeting in-person during the pandemic has been challenging because I’m not able to:

1. Be in the same room as my therapist.

Because I sometimes experience dissociation and problems staying regulated, it’s always been comforting to have my therapist there to spot when I start to struggle. It’s harder to handle these symptoms when we’re in two completely different places.

2. Have a set place to go.

In-person sessions allowed me to have a designated place where I could “leave” the hard stuff I’m working on in therapy. Now, I do my virtual sessions in my bedroom, so it makes it more difficult to separate my therapy work from my everyday life.

3. Have the same degree of privacy.

Although I can go to my bedroom for my sessions, I still don’t feel like I can completely cry or break down — being at home feels so much less contained. My therapist’s office has felt like a safe space where I can fully express what I need to without worrying that anyone in my home can hear me crying.

4. Be as comfortable on video.

I’m getting used to Zoom (just like everyone else in the world), but I still get more anxious before my sessions start because I hate being on camera. It’s also a lot harder for me to make eye contact on video, so I feel less in tune with my therapist.

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5. Have a smooth, technology-free session.

Technology is great — except for all the times when it isn’t working! I hate the dropped calls, frozen screens and missed connections — it adds a whole other layer of stress to the sessions.

6. Have a routine to my week.

Because of where I am in my treatment, a lot of my life revolves around therapy. I miss the commitment and routine of having to leave my house for these appointments. It made me feel busier and like I had a reason to be out and about and around other people instead of isolated at home.

7. Convince myself to get pulled together.

For Zoom sessions, I don’t feel the need to dress nicely or do my hair and makeup. I think it was actually good for me to have the drive to pull together my appearance even if it was just my therapist who was seeing me that day in her office.

8. Have the same connection.

Perhaps the most important element of this is that I feel less connected to my therapist. Meeting in person allowed me to feel safer and more grounded in a physical way, so I felt less alone in my fight for recovery.

I know that there are some people out there who might actually prefer virtual therapy (there are some benefits, I think). And I am trying my very best to make the most out of the situation and continue to work on myself during quarantine. But I have learned that virtual therapy will likely not be as helpful for me because of my experiences with the above-mentioned things. So, I’ll keep hoping that the day comes sooner rather than later that my therapist and I can resume in-person sessions for the sake of my mental health (and my need to ditch the sweatpants).

Struggling with your mental health due to COVID-19? Check out the following articles from our community:

Photo by Esther Driehaus on Unsplash

Originally published: September 10, 2020
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