In therapy, there is a need to create what we call a “therapeutic frame” which is basically a calm and inviting and separate space for people to be able to feel secure enough to do the work of therapy.
Typically, the creation of the therapeutic frame is done almost entirely by the therapist. You go to their office, you sit in their couch, in their neutral office, with their calming artwork, etc. However, doing therapy in your own home requires that you, as the client, take part in the creation of the therapeutic frame as well.
Because many therapists are being thrust into unknown territory of teletherapy and scrambling to figure out how to provide teletherapy, and I must say, not all of us are great at technology, there are a lot of clients left holding this problem and not having the words for it.
So, as a therapist, and as someone who has been doing their own personal therapy work via teletherapy for a while now, I wanted to provide some tips, especially as we’re now all using our homes for so many different things.
- Do your therapy somewhere quiet and where you will not be interrupted if at all possible.
- Get ready for therapy. You used to have to leave and physically go to the office. Now you need a similar ritual to get you in the therapy mindset. Stop what you’re doing a few minutes early, get yourself some water, go to the bathroom. Make sure you’re wearing clothes.
- Sit somewhere different if possible. If you’ve been working at your desk, move to the kitchen table, or the couch, or the bedroom. Make a therapy space for yourself. Make sure you’re comfortable, bring cozy things. If you usually fiddle with things during therapy, make sure you have something to fidget with.
- You may feel pressured to make eye contact, but you don’t need to. Also, it’s impossible to really look at the camera and your therapist’s face, that’s a weird bit. You get used to it with time though.
- Now, when you’re done with therapy, get up and walk away from the space you’ve created. Go to the bathroom, get some water, take a few minutes to create some space for yourself to “leave” therapy. Go for a walk (if possible), do a small self-care ritual. Therapy is hard work! And everything is especially difficult and heightened right now. Be gentle with yourself, a lot is changing now and you are getting through it the best you can.
Oh one more thing!
You can absolutely talk to your therapist about all of this, how it’s weird and hard. They can help you come up with more specific ideas on how to create a therapeutic space for yourself (they know you better than I do!)