Written by: Melissa Juzva

Online therapy with children

How online sessions can work for you

At this moment many of us are reeling in shock as our day-to-day lives change in the face of COVID-19. We are listening to the ever-changing advice of the government and health care professionals as we adjust to new routines and try to understand the implications of these changes. Maintaining social distance and practicing good hygiene is expected. This brings the question of how to receive support for our mental health and that of our children.

Online sessions with children

Technology is now in all aspects of our lives in some way. As such, online therapy is popular with children and young people, sometimes described as “digital natives”. Children use technology at school, to play games, and to communicate with friends. Adding online therapy to their routine is natural as they understand the technology and feel comfortable communicating through it – it is not an abstract concept.

Engaging younger children in technology is slightly different as it may be a new experience. In these cases, your psychologist has planned fun activities to build feelings of comfort. This includes games and an exploration of their environment (e.g., showing the psychologist their calming space or introducing any pets). Due to advances in technology we are able to do online sessions on any device, as such, children are not required to sit still for the session. Indeed, the psychologist may encourage movement breaks to ensure the session is beneficial and focus is maintained. Additionally, parents with younger children can take this as an opportunity to observe and learn from the interactions between the child and therapist. The feedback thus far has been that the sessions are more comfortable and effective than anticipated.

Child-Therapist Relationship

Often people question if a strong relationship can be created or maintained through a computer screen. This is a vital question as therapeutic success is often determined by the child-therapist relationship. I would like to assure you that research has consistently proven that the bond between therapist and child is comparable between face-to-face therapy and online therapy. That is, warmth, connection, collaboratively and engagement is the same online as it is in person. Psychologists are able to use verbal cues and body language online as they do in person when assessing emotional states and risk. Indeed, online therapy has been referred to as effective, acceptable and practical health care.

Support

COVID-19 is creating additional fear, anxiety and stress as we are limited in our abilities to meet and support one another. Flexibility and creativity are vital as we respond to the current climate. It takes time and practice to adjust, change is difficult for everyone. We understand that every client is different, and we are adapting to the needs and circumstances of each person. Each psychologist is being flexible in how you access their services and is happy to change appointment times to suit you as we adapt to this ever changing situation. Online therapy may not be right for everyone however, I hope this blog post will bring some optimism in these difficult times.

About the author
Melissa Juzva
Melissa is an Educational & Developmental Psychologist and Board Approved Supervisor. Melissa’s career as a psychologist has involved work in all sectors of education in Victoria and as such she believes it is imperative to work closely with schools to assist them in supporting the young people she works with.
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