When COVID-19 hit Australia, we all started to think about how this would affect our day to day work. Psychologists did the same! We knew that we had to rethink the way we do therapy. We had to do this to ensure all our clients continued to receive their therapy.
And so entered Telehealth…..
Telehealth uses digital technology and communication to provide health related services. This isn’t a new therapy – many Psychologists have some experience with online sessions. But can this be done with Children? Where therapy is usually highly interactive, includes different materials, physical activity, and a lot of time spent on the floor?
Anyone who has “FaceTimed” a young child has likely spent a lot of time looking at the ceiling and up their nostrils. Not ideal, and especially not helpful in therapy. But – like many of our other approaches – Telehealth is a well-honed craft shown to deliver similar results to face-to-face therapy.
Many therapists (particularly in rural and remote areas) have paved the way for us. Below are some important tips for successful Telehealth with kids.
Parents can, and will often need to be involved.
Parents will have an important role here. Be it as technical manager, sibling container, email coordinator, material supplier, or child-retriever (if they wander off to the bathroom and forget we were mid-session). We also want to know how you are going with parenting under more stress or coping if your family is isolated – all these things affect children’s emotional wellbeing as well as their behaviour. Just like in face to face therapy, we can help with all this.
It’s also important to know that online therapy with kids is not like a 50-minute FaceTime call.
It’s often more structured. We will still be moving, we will still be using craft, drawing on a whiteboard, playing card and board games, or playing with soft toys, puppets, and dolls. Kids will have an opportunity to show their therapist their own safe spaces, their favourite toys, their favourite online content, their parent who often can’t come to sessions, and their pets.
Many kids are already comfortable with using technology and might even prefer it!
The most common concern they often have is coming to terms with the fact their therapist doesn’t actually live at their office (if the therapist is working from home). It’s often us as adults who feel more uncomfortable, but this isn’t a reason to not continue with your child’s therapy. Continuity of mental health care is incredibly important, particularly when they are facing stress and uncertainty too.
We can and will be as flexible as we need to be. If your child needs shorter or more frequent sessions, we can do this. If we need to increase the amount of parent contact, we can do this. If you need any other accommodations, we will do whatever we can to support you and your children. We are still all in this together, learning this new way of life and doing what we need to do to get through. Contact us to discuss a Telehealth appointment for you or your child.