Tech Tools and Tips: How to Run a Successful Online Counseling Session
Whether in office or online, the experience you produce is just as important as the expertise you provide for clients.
As discussed in our post about creating a compelling profile, a flourishing environment is first crafted by your ability to be seen as a reliable and authoritative clinician. When conducting online counseling sessions, an indicator of that for clients will be your tech setup and how well prepared you are for possible barriers.
To help you master not only running an online session, but one that goes on without a hitch, here are some tech and preparation tips to stay aware of:
Tech Tips for Online Counseling
You want to create the best user experience possible for clients’ right? Well, that means it’s time to scrap the idea of relying on your laptop camera and audio for sessions. Those built-in systems aren’t reliable in terms of quality and running a pixelated video session with distracting background noise will leave clients frustrated and you coming off as incompetent.
Avoid that with these video, audio and connection tips:
Investing in a HD webcam will drastically improve the quality of your video chats and it doesn’t have to break the bank to get the results you want. So before you shell out the extra cash for an expensive webcam, scourer the internet for the best one that fits your budget.
You can score a 1080p external camera like this one, that’s under fifty bucks and can be used for your laptop or desktop. If you opt for a 720p camera, keep in mind that while you’ll still provide a respectable experience, it will be more limiting in quality compared to 1080p options.
Your video should be clear but your audio should be crystal clear. Background noise and feedback from speakers can easily be picked up by your computer’s microphone. For this, test out the microphone clarity on your web camera or invest in a pair of headphones.
The most vital element in this tech trifecta is a strong connection. Understanding what internet speed you need will make for a smooth session and help you better understand what level of video and audio tools you should be investing in.
If you’re using a wireless connection it may be wise to have a dedicated area with a wired connection, which is faster and more stable. Let your internet provider know what you’re looking to accomplish so that you receive the best bandwidth options.
More Preparation Tips for a Successful Online Session
Tech issues or distractions can create a robotic encounter with clients that you need to be building a deep connection with. As you get a handle on the tech tips above, stay conscious of these as well:
1. Leave time to set up beforehand. You want to make sure you’re not scrambling seconds before a session and it gives you time to fix possible issues.
2. Wear a sharp and professional outfit that contrasts well with your background. This will make it easier for the camera to focus on you and not the patterns or lines on a busy top.
3. Ringing phones, blaring ceiling fans or bellowing pets are all unacceptable. Your setting should always be quiet to ensure you’re providing clients with your full attention.
4. Where you look is how you will connect with your clients. It will take practice but get into the habit of looking at the camera when speaking. Otherwise on the clients’ end it will appear that you’re looking down if you’re looking at the screen.
5. Make sure nothing is downloading on your computer during the session and if you’re home, be aware of other things that may be streaming like Netflix or YouTube on other devices. This goes back to the tip about understanding your Internet speed (bandwidth).
6. You don’t need to be an expert on aperture, white balance or invest in a ring light to get nice lighting. Use natural lighting or a well-placed lamp to get the job done. But you at least need to educate yourself on the basics of lighting to get effective results.
Remember, your fancy tech tools won’t matter if your connection is slow and frequently freezes. And more importantly, you won’t be able to build a meaningful relationship if the expertise you’re trying to communicate is blocked out because clients’ can’t clearly see or hear you.
With these tips, you’ll give them experiences that are worthwhile and will be valuable assets in their mental health journey.
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