How To Provide Productive Teletherapy Group Sessions
Even before our everyday lives were turned entirely upside down, people were already seeking new therapeutic ways to process and manage their feelings and thoughts.
However, with the onset of COVID-19 earlier this year, social distancing rules have forced therapists to adjust quickly to this new realm of Teletherapy.
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Our Top 3 Tips for Online Group Therapy
With so many private practices finding success in making the transition to Telehealth, we wanted to make sure we were providing as much helpful information for as many providers as possible; making it easy for mental health professionals to continue expanding on their Teletherapy services. And one more great way to expand is by offering group Teletherapy sessions.
Group therapy services can be beneficial to both you and your clients in many ways. Benefits include increased social connection, group comfort with patients knowing they are not alone, the opportunity to gain new perspectives, and a sense of accountability that can increase motivation to reach new goals.
In this blog, we’re going to walk you through the top three ways you can provide a productive and safe Teletherapy group session.
If you are new to Teletherapy check out some of our past blogs that can help you get started today:
- Telehealth Resources for Therapists
- 3 Reasons Why Teletherapy Could Be the Boost Your Practice Needs
1. Use the Right Equipment and a Strong Internet Connection
You want to create a pleasant group Teletherapy session experience, which is built through the kind of technology you choose to use. Group sessions can fall apart quickly if your video stream is continuously freezing or lagging. When done correctly, conducting a group Teletherapy session doesn’t have to feel too different than an in-person group session. The key to ensuring a high-quality group session is by first assuring high-quality video resolution and sound, and making the meeting feel as close to in-person as possible. It’s extremely distracting for a video to be blurry, pausing, dark, or muffled, and it quickly disrupts the entire session, usually resulting in an unfavorable experience.
It’s imperative that in group Teletherapy sessions, your clients feel as comfortable as possible. That is why you want to make sure that you have a computer with a high-resolution webcam or external webcam, high-quality sound, fast internet speed, and a reliable internet connection.
2. Establish Privacy And Confidentiality Boundaries
Confidentiality is a cornerstone and foundation of a positive therapeutic experience. When it comes to confidentiality in Teletherapy, it tends to be more uncertain than in-person groups. Confidentiality should be an essential part of your group no matter where it takes place, and it should also be discussed openly and often among all group members.
When beginning a Teletherapy group, you should discuss with your group what confidentiality looks like and what a breach of confidentiality is. Communicating these expectations is an essential step as Teletherapy confidentiality can be much harder to manage than in-person sessions. Before starting a meeting, you should make sure every group member attending is in a secure location free of other people who could hear the group.
Although confidentiality can look different to each group, it’s still important to alert all members to the risks of Teletherapy through a more informed consent process. Group leaders should have clients read and sign informed consent forms for group telehealth before the first session, so they are aware of the risks, benefits, and limits of the group’s confidentiality. It is the group leader’s responsibility to uphold that group’s privacy standards.
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3. Create The Right Environment for Group Teletherapy
Even if you’re set up to video-chat at home, make sure you’re conducting your sessions with a solid sense of professionalism. This means to make sure that you use a clean setting with uncluttered background, closed doors and windows (for privacy), and adequate lighting to minimize any distractions so that the patient can focus and speak openly and freely. It’s also important to inform everyone in the group to prepare a space like this for the session as well.
Other ways to minimize external distractions from a group therapy session include:
- Keeping phones or computers on silent or airplane mode
- Wearing headphones to prevent sound from traveling to another room
- Removing distracting ambient noise such as barking dogs or blaring televisions
- Limiting interruptions from people outside of the group
- Creating group policies regarding if a member gets disconnected.
Conducting a group teletherapy session can be stressful and intimidating, but with clear communication and proper preparation, it can be just as easy and smooth as an in-person session.
If this is your first time conducting a Teletherapy session, check out our 8 Steps to Prepare for Your First Telehealth Session.
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