Melissa Andersen, LPC, is an Outpatient Therapist at MySpectrum. Melissa joined MySpectrum in May of 2020, amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic. Rather than starting her practice in the office as planned, Melissa started off with Teletherapy as a result of the state-wide quarantine in Virginia. Here is her story about her experience thus far.

“I had never provided Teletherapy before and I had my doubts about it. I was trained to read body language and the energy in the therapy room, so I was worried about being as good! What I’ve been finding out though, is that the sessions feel natural. There are even times where we forget that we’re not talking via video chat. I’ve noticed that clients share with me everything that they would share during a face-to-face session, and that lets me know that they feel comfortable. In fact, I’ve noticed that some clients feel more comfortable than they would in person because they’re more in control of what I see. Some people do better when they can conceal their anxious movements and choose what they show me of their homes and of themselves. Many clients are also quite happy to be able to have the extra time they save by not having to travel to the office. I think that most people are just more comfortable in their own homes, too.

Also since I’ve had to pivot to Teletherapy primarily, I’ve noticed that I don’t treat different issues than I normally would. Clients really can get the same benefit from the virtual format as they do from face-to-face meetings. For example, I took a client recently who had come to our practice because in the past they had found therapy sessions to be too loose and unorganized. This individual was asking for a structured approach to therapy using an approach called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. It turned out that I was able to offer exactly this to her through Teletherapy, and that the medium actually lent itself to therapy activities that we might otherwise not have done. Not only were we able to work through several worksheets together by sharing screens, I was able to share many other resources. We’ve listened together to eye-opening virtual lectures and participated together in online guided meditations. It’s been great being able to connect with clients this way even when we’re physically separated.

Another client who I thought was going to be particularly challenging is a child who has undiagnosed ADHD. At first I thought that it would be really difficulty to keep him focused without being able to control the environment that I normally have in my office, and even more so because the Teletherapy format does limit the kinds of activities that I could engage him in. However, we were able to find a way! The trick was incentivizing my client with games at the end of the session. There’s actually a website called board game arena that allows this client and I to interact over virtual board games. It turns out that this is great not only because it incentivizes other activities during the therapy session and my client looks forward to it, but because it created opportunities to engage and teach him that I didn’t know were there with Teletherapy. This way, I can work with him on learning patience and to tolerate frustration while also engaging him by having him teach me how to play these games that he loves.

I didn’t expect to be doing Teletherapy when I started with MySpectrum, but given the experiences I’ve had so far, I can say that I’m impressed with how well it has worked for myself and my clients.”

If you would like to schedule an appointment with Melissa for yourself or your child, please give us a call: 804-924-2236. Melissa’s bio can also be found here.