Maintaining a deep connection through remote therapy.

I recently asked this on my Instagram page and would love to continue the conversation here…

‘I’m looking for a bit of input… what ways do you maintain a sense of connection while working with your therapist remotely..? I know there are some amazingly creative therapists and people in therapy out there… how do you enhance your therapeutic relationship while doing video/phone sessions? I know people from all different parts of the world are at various stages of physical distancing – for me personally, I haven’t sat in a room with a therapist since Feb 29th and won’t probably get the opportunity to for at least 6 months I imagine. I’d love to hear the ideas you guys have come up with on how to stay connected with your therapists or clients while working in this strange way. What do you do during sessions. What about between sessions? Anything new been introduced through the lockdown to help with this physical disconnect? Please comment or DM with your experiences, ideas or suggestions!’

One major take away from doing this little bit of research and opening up the conversation was a resounding sense that almost everyone has found it hard on some level to feel their usual deep sense of connection with their therapist while doing remote therapy… at least for part of the time while working through the lockdown (which has obviously been longer for some people than others depending on where they are in the world or their therapists particular circumstances and/or health conditions).

One positive is that a lot of people have found they’ve been braver and more able to disclose and bring their adult part to their phone and video sessions than in person sessions. There is an element of being less self-conscious not being physically there for some people.

Most people have had conversations with their therapists to find ways to maintain the connection while working physically apart. It is something that both clients and therapists have struggled with and have had to be quite creative to work around and in some cases, bend and move boundaries with agreement on both sides for the time they’re working remotely.

Anyone got any suggestions or comments they’d like to add to the conversation? What are you doing or what did you do in order to help you feel connected to your therapist through the pandemic? Or what have you heard about… or do you have any ideas to add?

12 thoughts on “Maintaining a deep connection through remote therapy.

  1. lmocmom

    I’m lucky that my therapist is still seeing me in person with a barrier between us. For me, that was much better than all virtual. We have had sessions done virtually, and as long as I know it’s not permanent I have found that it’s easier to discuss some things that are really triggering to me that way.

    I still struggle with feeling connected between sessions, especially if there is a week or more between sessions. There is a part (or parts) that feels that she doesn’t exist anymore and that I don’t exist to her. We’ve tried a ton of things to make that better with limited success.

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  2. i haven’t had an in person session since march 1. pretty early on we increased frequency to twice per week. my therapist has always allowed me to contact her between sessions, which since march has both been more necessary, but more difficult for me, since i haven’t seen her in so long. we also spend a fair amount of time each session adjusting her distance to the camera. depending on my state of mind it can be a mindfuck for me if she’s not really close because she feels flat otherwise.. what else… something about seeing her hands makes her seem a little more real to me, so she is more cognizant of using them while she’s speaking. therapy has changed a lot for me because it has felt like the focus has shifted to damage control and harm reduction since march, rather than making real improvements. i have thought a lot about whether it makes sense to keep seeing her because i have a strong feeling that i may never see her again in person, so what’s the point in maintaining this torture? anyway, maintaining connection has been extremely, extremely difficult, but i got not entirely impossible.

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    1. Thank you for all of this. I know what you mean about it feeling like damage control rather than making actually progress. For me, especially with my interruptions to my therapy with Anna leaving and then stopping with Linda and starting with Mark, it has felt like many side steps and not many steps forwards. I like the idea of playing around with your T’s distance to the camera and making sure you can see her hands.

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  3. individualmedley17

    I’ve not seen my therapist in person since March. I have been up and down, with periods of extreme distress and periods of being more accepting of the situation. It has been hard to feel connected but I’m just starting to make some progress with this; having a transitional object I can hold helps when younger parts are nearby.

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  4. I was looking for a therapist during the lockdown. I had only one therapist that I never met in person at least once. While at first I felt a connection with her, I don’t think she ever got a real sense of me or who I am as a person. This was a huge drawback. I had to conclude that she had her own issues and, like Linda, was incapable of dealing with trauma… especially attachment trauma. It ended up being one more loss for me as well.

    I have found a therapist who is only among a very few who held off on online sessions and was quick to gradually bring back in-person sessions. The office building she is in takes good measures: everyone in the building must wear masks, no more than two people in the elevators at a time, the building is clean and hand sanitizer is available. Also, her office suite is large: a huge waiting room, and her office I meet her in is very large so we can meet unmasked (once in her office)  at a safe distance. I use paper towels to not touch anything in the building: not the door knobs, or the elevator buttons. She also spaces her clients so there is time to sanitize between sessions, and so that the waiting area is not full (she shares the suite with a Psychiatrist). 

    I could see her in person for every session right now if I could/wanted to. She is a long distance away. So I see her half the time in person. I see her every Monday and every other Wednesday in person. And I see her every Friday and every other Wednesday online. Seeing her three times a week has been a huge advantage. I would say that probably more frequent sessions, if possible, could help with building and maintaining a connection. Seeing her often hasn’t necessarily sped up the process, but it has intensified it. 

    I have found the ability to be more open at times online. But I think there is a huge drawback to never seeing a therapist in person. My heart goes out to you and everyone in which this is there only option. On the flip side, it is a true blessing that online therapy is an option. My therapist is on vacation this week meeting her first grandson. But she is still going to see me during my regular sessions online. I was really surprised by this. In the future I will see a colleague of hers, but she didn’t want to leave me with someone who couldn’t see me in person right now. So online therapy is a true blessing. I do feel your pain of being reduced to only online therapy. I am hopeful that online therapy in the future will continue to be a blessing for many… but not the standard!

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  5. As you probably know, I wasn’t able to do this and so have had to take a break. Things K and I tried that might help were drawing together at the start and sending each other a picture of the drawing, her holding our toy, her showing things in the room or from nature she’d brought in, her closing her eyes so we could look at her face (because online is close it’s hard to look). Obviously some of this worked because we’d been in the room together so much before and I knew her house, but it’s also why it didn’t work because it was too painful seeing the things and not being together so it might be easier with a new relationship. I also found phone instead of zoom helped me feel closer to her and I really recommend trying that sometimes – she also said she could listen more deeply this way. So we alternated and the most embodied sessions we managed were phone or zoom with drawing together at the start. Good luck! X

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    1. I have a hard time with face time… it feels invasive. So my therapist offered me to turn off my camera where she cannot see me, but I can still see her. This is working out better for me. The first time brought up a lot of unknown stuff. She was trying to empower me, but it surprised both of us because I became uncontrollably emotional feeling as though I was disappointing her, being non-compliant etc. This experience deepened our connection, and really started something deeper with my therapy. These were really good suggestions you shared.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh and for the first 4 months we did a text on the 3 week days when we didn’t have a session – we’d send one first thing and she’d reply – nothing deep and mostly young parts would send it, checking she still knew us or talking about pets or nice things. This REALLY helped and it was nice it was there however we were rather than reaching out in crisis and not being sure if it was ok to do so etc 💞

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