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Online therapy during lockdown 

As lockdown eases, we wanted to share the experience of online therapy in the eyes of some of our service users.  

According to the age of the service user, the devices used are mobile phones, tablets, laptops or desktops. The sessions may look different in relation to the device used.

‘A boy age 8 will take the smartphone with the therapist’s face on the screen and hide in his tent ‘taking his therapist with him’ to show her where he feels safe. In the tent, he feels safe to talk to her about his fears and worries without feeling that his mum will overhear and be upset.’

Dimitra Theodoropoulou, Kids Inspire Psychotherapist and Clinical Impact Manager said: “Children often make dens and places where they can hide and feel safe. We have seen children placing tents on their beds to sleep in or creating made-up ones to sleep on the floor during the lockdown.”

‘A girl age 9 does not have a tent as she is older now and she didn’t think she would need one. And so the therapist helps her to use imagination and creativity to create a made-up one for these moments during the day when she wants to cry thinking of her grandparents and their vulnerable health. The therapist creates a den placing a scarf on top of her head and all the way behind the web-camera which gives an impression of being in a tent; the girl does the same. Then, the girl is able to talk more about how much she misses her grandparents who she hasn’t seen during the lockdown.’

Dimitra reflected on some of the challenges faced: “Often the parents have had to be educated on how to set up online video calls between the child and the grandparents to maintain contact. For some families, this had been unusual, but the online therapy sessions made them feel confident with technology and able to use this form of communication within their home.”

‘A mother reported that although her daughter had regular phone calls with the grandmother, it made a huge difference when they set up video calls instead. She said that she was grateful for the advice and idea as she saw how important it was for her daughter to have visual proof that her grandmother was safe and healthy.’

“The lockdown has created feelings of isolation and stuckness, being confined in the home and lacking stimulation. Lots of traditional Art and Play therapeutic techniques normally used in face-to-face sessions are not easily applicable. Online sessions have pushed the therapists to be even more creative and embrace technology and its possibilities.” Informed Dimitra.

‘A girl age 8 learns how to use the virtual background tool of the online platform. She changes her background from a sandy beach to a green forest to an arctic mountain or to space. The therapist follows her by changing her background too; they talk about ‘how does it feel to be in this place’ and so the exploration of feelings, emotions and body sensations becomes fun and playful. Especially important seems to be the Space background; the girl and the therapist become astronauts watching the Earth and discussing the planet’s future; the discussion is influenced by the pandemic and its consequences. ‘

Various online platforms have been and are being used with the main safety criteria being the end-to-end encryption to protect privacy and confidentiality and the age of the service user accompanied by parental consent.