One thing we do know for sure, the pandemic is not going to be going away anytime soon. Since it’s not leaving, it the use of telehealth psychotherapy for mental health professionals is here for at least a bit longer. As a result, you may be deciding whether to give up, renew your lease, or just work from your home. Whatever your decision, you will want to create a personal touch to your online office. In other words, what is the feel you want your clients to have via this online space with you?
Think of your online office as if your client was physically present in the room with you. Make it as comfortable and pleasing as possible for both you and your clients. Here are some additional ways to make it more pleasing for you. For instance, I love being outdoors. Through the pandemic, when I’m not online and have a break between sessions, I step outdoors to breath fresh air. I like to feel the sunshine on my face and body. It’s also nice to listen to the birds sing and chirp. I take time to look at the colors of trees and flowers to rest my mind and eyes from online fatigue.
Tips To Make the Client More Comfortable
Make Sure What They See Is Comfortable and Pleasing
The first thing that clients notice, as I have myself with all of the “Zoom” rooms I’ve been in the last four months for trainings, consultations, classes, webinars, meditations, etc, is not only the person who is talking on the screen but also what is in the background of the room of the person who is talking. I find myself looking at the books on their shelves, the art on the wall, the color of the wall, bright colors, dark colors, or an object that catches my eye. Some of the rooms I see look more generic than others and some are more defined and detailed. Either way is fine, there is no right or wrong to decorating. It’s a personal choice, but there are some things to consider when making choices on how to decorate an online office.
Bring The Outdoors Inside
Since I’m not able to go outside during sessions with clients, I bring the outdoors inside. In my online office space, I use live greenery. For example, a tall green potted plant placed directly to the side of me and in plain sight for my client to look at. I have a vase of fresh flowers with a bright color like sunflowers sitting on top of a desk in the corner of the room. These objects are pleasing to the eye. They also relax the body to decrease anxiety, tension, stress, irritation, sadness, etc. Clients have expressed these items uplifts their mood. All of these items are positioned exactly where I want them. They give clients other things to look at in my online room other than myself. The intent is to mirror how a client would actually be like in the room physically with you. Most clients tend to gaze at other objects in the room beside the clinician during an in-person session.
Create a Backdrop
To make for a pleasing backdrop on camera, I use a free-standing screen. The screen I use has muted painted flowers on it that is not too distracting to the client. There is a selection of screens on Amazon under “free-standing screen room.”
Tips to Make Your Work Environment More Comfortable
To make your office comfortable and pleasing for yourself so you can relax and show up at your best for your clients, I recommend the following.
Have a Good Chair
Purchase a good chair that is has a lever to change the height of the chair. The lever will come in handy if you want to change the angle of your computer screen or if you switch back and forth from desktop to laptop. I’ve also noticed that arm supports offer more comfort, especially as the day progresses in session with clients.
Have Items That Make Your Environment Pleasing
In addition, I have a handful of fidget items such as stones and crystals on my desk in front of my computer that my clients are not able to see. These items help me stay grounded and centered throughout the day. I have personal spiritual objects around my computer that are meaningful to me. I light a candle (Battery powered candles work fine too!) and use a lighted salt rock to create calmness and tranquility in the room and within me. A candle and salt rock can be items that you choose to be “on camera.” Colorful and/or scenic photos or paintings are also pleasing to the eye and give the client the opportunity to have something else to look at while processing difficult emotions and feelings with you.
If you were not doing telehealth prior to the pandemic, most likely you are now and will be for a while as the numbers to continue to increase for those infected by the virus. Now is the time to decorate your online office space to create a space that defines and expresses you as a clinician and provides calmness and peace of mind to your clients.
To read more blog posts by Lisa Lewis, check out How to Create a Wellness Room to Relieve Anxiety, Stress and Fear which was featured on Practice of the Practice.
Lisa Lewis has gained extensive training in the mind-body connection with three certificates in energy healing, Level 2 Reiki certified, and a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is also part of the Disaster Mental Health Team for the world’s largest volunteer network, the American Red Cross. Lisa is a certified Bereavement Group Facilitator so she has a passion for helping those in need. Get in touch with Lisa at [email protected] or call her for a free consult: 626.319.5076