How to make the best out of your child’s online therapy journey

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You have made it this far! Taking the first step to finding the right kind of support for your child and your family is often the most stressful.  We are now with you on this journey to support your child develop the skills needed to feel confident, secure, connected and happy to participate in their daily activities.  

There are many families who are receiving therapy services with us at My Online Therapist and after having over 2000 sessions, we have learnt about what can make your online therapy journey with us successful. 

Here are 6 tips and guides to set you and your family up for ease, enjoyment and progress in your sessions.

1. Prepare your child before the first session

Starting anything new can bring up some feelings and questions from your child. This is normal and it’s best to respond openly and positively to the journey they are about to start. This is also where you can talk about behaviours that are expected during online sessions and use examples of your own online meetings or family video calls. 

From our side, we do our best to get your child ready by sharing a video of ourselves so that your child can get to see their therapist before starting their first online therapy session.  You can explain starting therapy to your child by reading more HERE (see below)>

2. Find the best time and stick to it

We, adults and children, are not at our most alert and awake at every hour of the day.  This means, setting a time for therapy is important.  Your child should be rested, fed and content to participate actively in the activities in the session.  If you are joining them in the sessions, it is important that the time works for you as well so that you too can fully engage and participate in the session.  What works wonderfully is to have a visual calendar up for kids so that they are prepared and can SEE when their sessions happen.  For younger children, you can inform them on the day before and on the morning of the sessions.  Consistency of the sessions, which means having them weekly on the same day and time also puts the child at ease and fits well into a routine and planning for other engagements and commitments that your child and family may have. 

3. Limit distractions around the child 

Setting up the environment is necessary so that your child can participate in activities with limited distractions.  Things you can do at home before the sessions start: 

  • Let everyone in the home know when your child will be busy in the session
  • Have enough space for your child to move around or sit at a table
  • Leave your therapy resources ready and in one place for your child to access easily when they are in their session

4. Test your camera angle and lighting 

As much as technology is helping us receive therapy in the comforts of our homes, we still need to make sure we optimize the time we have for our session.  To do this, before sessions, go through this list: 

  • Test the camera and speaker on the video call platform that you will use 
  • The screen is best at eye level of the child with a full view of their face.  In some OT sessions, the child will move around and the camera angle might need to capture a larger space of the room.
  • Make sure lighting is suitable so that your child can be seen clearly by the therapist on the screen
  • Test your connection a few minutes before the session.  If you are affected by load-shedding, inform your therapist and they would either reschedule or send you a home programme video for that week. 
  • Set up headphones/ headsets to fit your child and see if they are comfortable using this 

5. Need more feedback?  Please ask.

Similar to schooling, research shows that the greatest indicator of therapy success is parental involvement. 

This journey is as much yours as it is your child’s.  Your therapist’s role is to explain your child’s development and our perspectives and findings to you so that we can work together to achieve therapy goals.  Please feel free to communicate with your therapist – ask as many questions as you wish to and ask for more feedback when you need it.  You may be needed for some of the sessions with your child and you may be needed for some sessions without your child.  This is to ensure that we are all on the same page moving toward the same goals.  

6. If your therapist makes an unrealistic suggestion, let them know.

It is very important that you feel you and your child have the right fit with your therapist. You are the expert on your child and your therapist is the expert on therapeutic interventions.  Together we support your child to continue to move through the therapy process. If there are any bumps or hiccups along the way, your case manager is available to you at any time to discuss your concerns.  It is essential that you inform your therapist about what works, what doesn’t and what you observe when your therapist is not there.  Your therapist is there to provide support to you and your family in a way that you need it.  

What to tell your child about therapy: 

Therapy helps everyone learn and practice what they need.  It’s a place where you can be free, learn new things, play games, talk honestly and just be yourself.  … All the activities help you to strengthen your body and your mind.  The laptop is your creativity helper and I am also here if you need my help or want to share anything with me.  It’s okay to feel anything about your sessions- excited/nervous etc.  Your therapist and I are here to talk about that too.  

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