1. Find an online counsellor that suits you
Probably the most important tip and also one of the more difficult ones. But as you are looking for an online counsellor or psychologist, you should be able to find quite a few informations on your therapist online. How is the website designed? What professional background does your counsellor have? How much and what kind of professional experience? Is there a blog or other articles that might give you a deeper insight into the work of that person? Do you find them appealing and trustworthy? And of course, in the end: trust your feeling!
2. Contact the counsellor
Most online counsellors offer the opportunity to send them an initial non-binding request at no extra cost. Use this to clarify the conditions (costs, procedure, etc. especially if the informations provided on the website are not sufficient) and get more insight into the way that therapist works (responsiveness and type and content of the response).
3. Try to clarify your expectations
What are you expecting from your counsellor and the consultation? What problem or situation do you need help with? What would be a “good” result of the consultation? Write down a few bullet points to avoid forgetting something important during the session. The more you are able to clarify your problem and your goals, the better the counsellor will be able to help you. But don’t worry if you don’t know exactly what you need or expect, your counsellor will help you figure that out!
4. Create an appropriate environment for online consultation
You don’t need much more than a relatively quiet room and a good internet connection. Both, however, are important conditions for successful online consultation. Familiarise yourself with the technical aspects (i.e. Skype) and check your internet connection. Try to make sure you will not be interrupted during your session. Your partner or children should either not be at home or else know to not disturb you. But also make sure to avoid all electronic interruptions, turn off your phones, shut down email programs on your Computer to avoid distracting pop up messages during your consultation.
5. Take your time
As your online consultation will most likely take place at your home, you don’t have to drive or walk to your therapists practice. This has a lot of advantages, but it also means, that there is no natural transition between your daily life and your consultation. I highly recommend that you take some time before and after your consultation to mentally prepare yourself and take a short break afterwards before going back to your daily activities.
6. Don’t expect miracles
Yes, online consultation can help in many cases. But you should not expect one single consultation to solve all your problems. A good counsellor will take enough time to properly analyse your situation and help you in finding adequate solutions. This also means, that your counsellor will not tell you what to do or provide ready-made solutions. He will assist you in finding individual solutions and answers to your unique situation. You have probably been dealing with or suffering from your problems for a while. You should not expect an instant fix. Sometimes problems may even worsen in the beginning of a consultation. This is not surprising at all, as you are now focussing more intensely on them. Be patient! A good and successful consultation will assist you in make all the necessary changes one step at a time.
A successful consultation will not only request your collaboration during sessions but also in between sessions. You might receive be asked to write down your daily thoughts or emotions, to log typical difficult situations and your reactions to them or get other “homework”. Whatever it will be in your case: your active collaboration is essential to achieve your goals. A good counsellor will check on your individual progress on a regular basis.
8. Be honest to yourself and to your counsellor
A consultation can only be successful if you do not hide any important issues. If you don’t understand something, ask! If you are not sure if the consultation is working for you or you feel like your therapist is not asking the right questions, tell him. Especially in a online counselling situation, where some of the non-verbal cues are lost due to the format, clear and open communication is a key ingredient.
9. Be open to change
Of course change is what you are looking for or you wouldn’t seek counselling. But on top of the expected changes, your consultation may lead to new or different changes in your life. Be open for all kind of changes – and be aware, that any kind of change in your person will also affect your surroundings.