Getting the most from your Zoom session

With the limitations being placed on face-to-face meetings during this period, The Well has made the decision to move all counselling sessions on-line using Zoom. The following guide is designed to help you prepare for and get the best out of your on-line sessions. We will also allow some time in your first session to make sure that you get your set-up just right.

“My therapy was entirely online, yet I felt very supported, very safe, and in a warm environment despite the cold awkwardness that video calls often have.”

Using Zoom

Before joining a Zoom meeting on a computer or mobile device, download the Zoom app from the Zoom Download centre (https://zoom.us/download).

Prior to your session, you might find it useful to familiarise yourself with some basic Zoom functions, for example, unmuting yourself, turning your video on, navigating between gallery and speaker views, using the “chat” function. Zoom has set up some short, useful tutorials (https://support.zoom.us/hc/enus/articles/206618765-Zoom-video-tutorials).

To join your session, click on the link embedded in your invitation. Depending on your default web browser, you may be prompted to open Zoom. For security reasons, you will then be placed in a waiting room. Please wait for your therapist to admit you to your session.

Setting up

Check for sufficient internet speed

Your internet connection needs to be fast and reliable enough to allow an uninterrupted two-way video conversation for about an hour. The best way to test this is to monitor your existing video calls. If you think your bandwidth might be insufficient, speak to your therapist. It may be that telephone counselling is a better option for you.

Your device

A laptop or desktop computer are likely to give you and your therapist the best view of one another. If you are planning to use a smartphone or tablet, make sure that your device is fully charged and that it can be propped up, leaving your hands free, and giving your therapist a good head and shoulder’s view of you. You might find it more comfortable to sit a little further back from the camera. In which case, consider using earbuds or a microphone to improve the sound quality.

Room set-up

As with face-to-face counselling, it is important to find a private space, without distractions, and where you can be sure you won’t be overheard or interrupted. Bear in mind that during the daytime, if you have a window behind you as you face the camera, your face will be in shadow. Take some time to try out your room setting and ideally, use an identical setting every week. This will take away some of the stress of setting up, leaving you free to focus on your counselling session.

During your session

Removing distractions

Whether using a mobile device or a laptop or desktop, it is advisable to block out any alerts from popping up on screen during your session.
If using a mobile, make sure it is set to silent. Finally, if you find it distracting to see yourself on camera, use the Zoom option to “Hide
Self-View”.

Maintaining eye contact

Being able to maintain eye contact with your therapist is an important part of creating the environment of confidence and trust necessary for effective therapy. This can be difficult when working on-line as when we look directly at someone on the screen, we are looking below the level of the camera. What others see therefore, is us looking downward toward the keyboard. For good eye contact, use the “Pin Video” function and move the video image of your therapist up to the top of the screen toward your web cam.

If you get disconnected

Have the email with the Zoom meeting link to hand. If you lose connection, return to the email and click the link to re-join the session. If you are still experiencing problems, message or call your therapist using the contact details provided.

Before and after your session

Without the travel time to and from an appointment, we can find ourselves without time to prepare for a session or readjust to the demands of the day. It is a good idea therefore, to create a bit of time either side of your session as a kind of ‘virtual commute’.