Hope you are all well and staying as safe as we each can be in these challenging days.
As I have been working from home, I am aware of needing to adjust and tweak my ad hoc home office set up day by day. So, I wanted to mention a few things you might consider to improve your work experience and optimize your ability to attend to your clients virtually. It may take some experimenting but spending a few minutes each day organizing and improving your space is good self-care.
- Where are you sitting? I have noticed that it is important to sit somewhere where there is natural light as well as artificial light available. A room where a window can be opened helps refresh the air, increase the oxygen in your space and keeps you alert. Being able to gaze at a distance is proven to help rest and refresh eyes strained from staring at a screen. Being near an electrical outlet to keep your devices powered up is important as well. Do you need an extension cord? Is the room you are in visually comfortable for you? Tidy up or move things that might distract you from your clients.
- What are you sitting on? I have found that I had to experiment with a couple different chairs and small pillows before settling on a combination that feels comfortable to sit in for several hours. I am also using a second chair to put my feet up on. This seems to help my hips and it might be something you want to experiment with. I keep a light blanket within arms reach to throw over my lap if the room gets cool.
- Writing materials. I keep a pad of paper and pen nearby for taking notes on things to follow up on. Does this client need a resource sent after the session? Do they have an open balance that I want to address? Have they signed a telehealth consent form? At the beginning of the day, I think thru each client I am seeing and make a list of any open issues I might want to address with each. I try to speak to these issues at the beginning of the session. If I miss something, I send an email at the end of my day and make a note to follow up next session.
- I like having a small table nearby for a glass of water or cup of tea and small snack to enjoy between sessions. I like to have hand lotion and chap stick on hand as well.
- Computer/phone. I have been using a stool in front of my chair to set my laptop on. If I am doing a session by telephone, I prop it up against my lap top screen. It is easy to move and readjust. Check your camera view before your sessions to see what your client will be seeing. Your head and shoulders should be the main things in the frame, so your client can easily see your face and expression. This is particularly helpful for clients who may doing their session on a small screen. Are there things in the visual frame that you could remove? Be sure your camera is placed to provide a head on shot of you where you are neither looking down or looking up into the camera.
- Household sounds. If you share living space with other people household noises and voices may be audible to your clients or distract you from your client. I noticed that hanging a blanket on the back of my door does just enough to muffle sounds from the rest of our house.
That is all I can think of, maybe you have suggestions to share. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
Cindy Trawinski, PsyD, is a licensed clinical psychologist, a Diplomate in Process-oriented Psychology (also known as Process Work) and a certified Imago Relationship Therapist. She is a founding partner of LifeWorks Psychotherapy Center and North Shore Psychotherapy Associates. Cindy is the former CEO of the Process Work Institute, in Portland, OR and a member of the International Association of Process-oriented Psychology (IAPOP), in Zurich, Switzerland. Cindy is a frequent speaker on topics including: Diversity and Multicultural Issues; Sex Positivity; Rank & Power; Therapist Bias; and Polyamory.