Online therapy has been available in some form for years. Still, recent events have rapidly increased the number of clients who see their therapist remotely, according to a 2021 article in the American Psychological Association titled “Online Therapy is Here to Stay.” Online therapy has become more mainstream for clients who would typically seek in-person care. In addition, clients who would have struggled to access therapy in the past because of their remote location now have better access to the help they need, as found in the 2021 American Psychological Association article, “A Growing Wave of Online Therapy.”
The transition to mainly online therapy has been positive for the millions of Americans and clients worldwide who need mental health care in times of peace and chaos. Yet, mental health care providers have a new and heavy burden in this explosion of clients.
Online Therapy Comes With Unprecedented Challenges for Therapists
The benefits of online therapy are numerous. Ease of scheduling, client comfort, and decreased fear are just a few of the benefits of therapy through a technological buffer; however, there are new challenges that don’t occur in face-to-face therapy.
- Latency and poor video quality.
Reading emotions moment-to-moment is crucial to understanding clients and responding appropriately. Unfortunately, the quality of the internet and webcams varies amongst clients. How much rapport is affected when there are lagging seconds behind emotional reveals?
- Unsuited for crisis patients and situations.
Scheduling online therapy can be consistent on some platforms but not on others. Asynchronous messaging and a lack of on-demand appointments are not suited for clients in a crisis. Fast response times are critical for unstable clients, and online therapy’s flexibility may limit serving these clients.
- Offers limited perspective of the client’s body language.
A camera reveals about a fourth of the client’s total body at the best of times. Therefore, signals that can help determine the client’s emotions, tension, or dishonesty may be concealed in such a limited frame.
- An added layer of concern for a client’s secure information.
Confidentiality is essential, no matter the way that therapy is being utilized. Unfortunately, some businesses are not equipped to keep up in the technological age where so much sensitive information is stored online.
- More clients for less pay.
Depending on the platform, therapists may be contractors rather than employees. As a result, pay may be more volatile, unpredictable, and decreased to compensate for the platform. Being a contractor also means you may have less control of who you allow as a client and how many appointments you need to support your income.
The challenges of virtual care create unique stress for professionals who are slipping into online therapy and struggling to catch up. If you feel overwhelmed by online therapy and inundated with clients, try some of these examples of coping mechanisms.
4 Coping Mechanisms for Feeling Overwhelmed
Therapists often forget the importance of caring for their mental health before and during caring for others. If this applies to you, take a moment to practice some of the following techniques to lower your stress levels.
- Assess your stress level and respond appropriately every single day.
It’s easy to get caught up in the consistent stream of clients and not remember to evaluate your schedule. Take time out of your schedule every day to think about what you have to offer, your limitations, and your stress. Then, take measures to make your schedule more doable and intervene for yourself. Time management practices reduce anxiety and depression and improve sleep quality.
- Take care of your body by not letting the stress build up.
Do you think you are too busy to exercise? It is vital to make time. Not only does exercise relieve stress short-term, but it also increases emotional resiliency long-term. You are more capable of handling past, present, and future stress when you exercise regularly. Even a light fifteen-minute stretch can turn your day around. This is a time to put down your phone, shut down your computer, and ground yourself back into your body.
- Journal, vent and make regular appointments with your own therapist.
Positive affect journaling decreases stress and anxiety levels, increases emotional and physical well-being, improves depression and anxiety, and creates more emotional resilience. Whatever method you use to relieve stress, make sure to focus on your emotional state and self-regulate. Think about how you feel, why you feel that way, and what you can do about it.
- Set boundaries between yourself and your work.
With so many people depending on you, it can be easy to take work home to complete it. A large influx of professionals is working from home as well. However, if burnout occurs, it can hinder your career growth and harm your mental and physical health. Instead, focus on your well-being, family, friends, and hobbies to feel satisfaction outside of your workplace. Create homework boundaries as much as possible.
Online therapy is more popular than ever, but seeing clients online has different challenges than in-person sessions. Contending inconsistent internet, poor technology, crisis patients, inability to analyze body language, and cybersecurity concerns are just a few of the problems unique to online therapy. The biggest concern for therapists is coping with these new challenges with an increased client base with less pay and fewer resources. For therapists who feel overwhelmed with their client base and the responsibilities of online therapy, it’s important to practice self-care and cope with the stress and anxiety you’re feeling. Practice scheduling, exercising, journaling, and separating your worth from your work to gain a better work-life balance and more peace of mind. For persistent anxiety and stress or life skills and coping techniques, call Casa Recovery. Call or text (888) 928-2272 for a consultation on our many holistic and traditional services to suit your needs as a professional.