Transitioning to an online therapy business — a local case study

By Kerr Thomson

On 23 March 2020 our routines changed significantly. As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, non-essential work and travel was restricted; shops, bars, restaurants, schools and offices were closed; we were requested to work from home (where possible); we were asked to be ‘socially distant’ and not to physically mix with others outside of our household; we were given an hour to (safely) exercise outside. This was not the norm. We were used to free movement, travel, clubs & activities and socialising. There was no definitive timescale how long this would last. It was not evident what impact it would have on each of our lives.

"I felt it was important early on to use social media as a tool to communicate suggestions"

I am a hypnotherapist who, prior to 23 March, would traditionally meet clients face-to-face to conduct our sessions. This would no longer be possible, so it was clear that my practices would need to change to accommodate the new situation. Whilst remote support may be a slightly different experience, the technology available at our fingertips means that help can still be accessed, when it is needed. There are a variety of applications that can be used including Zoom, Whatsapp video, FaceTime and others.

Some people will not have found it easy to transition to working from home, particularly if partners were doing likewise. Others may have found difficulty in having their children at home or not being able to buy their normal foods from the supermarket. I felt it was important early on to use social media as a tool to communicate suggestions which would help to make these experiences more effective and enjoyable.

Kerr Thomson, clinical hypnotherapist at HypnoPower

A priority was to understand how the changing circumstances may affect my existing clients and how they would like to continue to work with me in the new environment. Contacting all my clients, I explained the options that were available to them and how I could continue to provide support.

Whilst some forms of therapy need to be conducted in person as there is a requirement for a hands-on approach, for example massage therapy, I am fortunate that hypnotherapy can be safely and effectively conducted remotely. This may be an unusual situation for those who have previously met with their therapist in person and may lead to uncertainty for anyone new to therapy, but is there a need to be concerned? Here are a couple of my thoughts on this:

Research shows that online therapy can be just as effective as face-to-face sessions, and in some respects it can be more beneficial. Client travel time to the therapists location is removed, and tied to that is reduced costs associated to fuel or public transport. Some people find that sitting in their favourite comfortable chair, with their preferred soothing (non-alcoholic!) drink, in their own environment really helps them to settle in to the session.

Adjusting to the online method of support could lead to some uncertainty in timing of when each other will speak, particularly if there is a delay in the transmission, as the non-verbal clues are less obvious. A therapist will want to hear your views and will encourage you to carry on.

"remember that adjusting to online therapy may take some time"

Some people feel self-conscious about seeing themselves on the screen. An appropriate way to address this would be to arrange the chat window so that it doesn’t display your image, which may help to make the discussion feel more natural.

It’s important to remember that adjusting to online therapy may take some time as both parties build an understanding using this format. This shouldn’t be a barrier. You should still be able to access the resources that can help you achieve the changes you would like. So, give it some time to make a difference.

Written by Kerr Thomson, clinical hypnotherapist at HypnoPower.