We asked 10 therapists in the Los Angeles area what their best tips were for building a strong and meaningful connection with patients over a telehealth platform.
Treat your telehealth appointment just like you would your in-person appointment.
Put all your devices on do not disturb (you can do this for your computer also) and give the appointment your undivided attention. Make sure you are in a private place away from distractions and interruptions where you can speak freely without worrying about being overheard.
Dr. Sarah Schewitz
Dr. Sarah Schewitz is a Psychologist specializing in love & relationships and founder of the successful online psychology practice, Couples Learn. Dr. Sarah has been featured in outlets such as CNN, Readers Digest, Women’s Health, Bravo TV, Self, and more.
Some extra thought and care in communicating before a session!
Dr. Judy Ho
Dr. Judy Ho, Ph. D., ABPP, ABPdN is a triple board certified and licensed Clinical and Forensic Neuropsychologist, a tenured Associate Professor at Pepperdine University, and published author, most recently penning “Stop Self-Sabotage,” published by HarperCollins in August 2019; a book detailing a scientifically driven six-step program which has been translated into 7 additional languages around the world. Dr. Judy maintains a private practice in Manhattan Beach, CA where she specializes in comprehensive neuropsychological assessments and expert witness work.
As therapists, we need to find ways to convey our presence from afar.
Lori Gottlieb, LMFT
Lori Gottlieb is a psychotherapist and New York Times bestselling author of MAYBE YOU SHOULD TALK TO SOMEONE, which is currently being adapted as a television series. In addition to her clinical practice, she writes The Atlantic’s weekly “Dear Therapist” advice column and is co-host of the popular “Dear Therapists” podcast produced by Katie Couric. Her recent TED Talk was one of the Top 10 Most Watched of the Year.
Share my screen and review handouts or worksheets that we can complete together in session.
My favorite way to connect with clients online and make telehealth sessions more engaging is to share my screen and review handouts or worksheets that we can complete together in session. Clients also seem more likely to take notes during telehealth sessions.
Dr. Carissa Gustafson
Dr. Carissa Gustafson is a licensed clinical psychologist based in Los Angeles, CA. She emphasizes evidence-based practice and specializes in third-wave cognitive-behavioral therapies (CBT) such as dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and compassion-focused therapy (CFT), that utilize a mindfulness- and acceptance-based approach. She is also an Adjunct Professor and Adjunct Clinical Faculty at Pepperdine University, Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Lastly, she is the author of Reclaim Your Life: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 7 Weeks.
Within reasonable and appropriate bounds, let clients do sessions in ways that are comfortable for them.
That might include in their bed, on the floor, or laying out in their backyard.
Dr. Natalie Feinblatt
Dr. Natalie Feinblatt is a licensed clinical psychologist in Los Angeles, California. She specializes in helping people heal from addiction and trauma. She is trained in & practices EMDR, Brainspotting, CBT, and ACT.
Hide your own face.
If your video platform does not offer a simple way to hide your own face, try covering up your face by sticking a little Post-It or piece of paper over the section of the screen where you can see it. This helps so that you’re not distracted by your own face or worrying about how you look.
Becky White, LMFT
Becky White MFT is the Founder and Director of Root to Rise Therapy, a boutique psychotherapy practice in Los Angeles, CA, that helps you create healthy, satisfying relationships. We believe that healthy relationships start with you, and we are here to help you create a relationship and life that you love.
Make sure that you communicate anything that you do.
Do not leave the screen suddenly and have clients wondering where you are. The less clients have to guess about, the better. (Ex. Make sure you have enough power on your laptop/computer and that setting and volume are adjusted properly and that you have pen, paper, and all that you need at your fingertips).
Shantel Daniels, LMFT
Shantel Daniels is a couples and singles specialist in California. When it comes to empowering self-love, extraordinary partnership, and emotional freedom, Shantel is a go to person. She knows pain and how to help people out of some of their most darkest moments.
Leverage Screen Sharing
The human brain developed to understand the world visually before we developed language, following this, our capability to understand concepts and models visually should not be overlooked in therapy. Most video services allow some kind of screen sharing that can be used in place of an in-office whiteboard.
My tip: think strategically about when/how you’ll use visuals to support your treatment while enhancing client engagement.
Dr. Alicia Smart
Entrepreneur, clinical director and psychologist who is passionate about helping people improve their lives. Practices evidence based therapies, including DBT, RO-DBT and DBT-PE at the DBT Center of Marin.
Use Your Intuition.
Without access to body language and other sensory cues, we have to rely even more on our intuition about what we’re noticing in a fleeting facial expression or a glance. Don’t be afraid to ask follow up questions if you notice a change in expression.
Dr. Justin Shubert
Dr. Justin Shubert is founder and director of Silver Lake Psychotherapy, a private practice group on the east side of Los Angeles. Justin works in various ways to encourage sensitivity to issues of diversity within the field of psychoanalysis, including serving as chair of the Committee on Gender and Sexuality for the American Psychoanalytic Association.
Eva Van Prooyen, MFT
I am a licensed psychotherapist and relationship specialist based in Santa Barbara, CA. I have a private practice working with couples and individuals to address relationship issues, anxiety, depression, addiction, and life transitions. I blend neuroscience and theory with warmth and humor to help make positive and enlivening changes in my client’s lives and relationships. My aim is clear – we feel more capable, productive, loved, and life is all-around better when our relationships are healthy. My job is to help guide you there.