At-Home Teletherapy:

Ten Tips to Help Your Child or Teen Get the Most Out of Their Time


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about seemingly endless changes to “business as usual,” and the process of therapy has been no exception. The rise of teletherapy over the last year has many benefits, including increased access to convenient therapy appointments via the computer and making therapy more possible for kids and teens with even the busiest schedules. However, there are parts of in-person therapy that don’t always translate well to meeting with a therapist over the computer, such as the comfort, privacy, and routine offered by a trip to the therapist’s office. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help your child or teen maximize their teletherapy experience.  


Below are ten tips to help make teletherapy as beneficial as possible for your child or teen. 


1. Let your child know that you’ll help get things set up for their teletherapy appointments but will be leaving the rest to them. 

A huge part of successful therapy for kids and teens is their ownership of the process. To establish this, let your child know that you will help to get ready for the first appointment (following the recommendations below), but that once things get started, these appointments will be for them alone. If you have lingering questions about your involvement in the process as a parent, reach out to your child’s therapist to discuss how you can be most supportive.  


2. Help create a private space (or as private as possible!). 

Although it may be difficult to find a totally private space in your home, ensuring privacy for your child or teen is essential to good therapy. Many kids are most comfortable in their bedrooms. It is important to communicate that you, and the rest of the household, will not be interrupting the session, or lingering outside the door. Making an effort to ensure your child’s privacy as much as possible is an essential part of at-home teletherapy and will help them feel most comfortable in their therapy sessions. 


3. Consider getting a white noise machine for additional privacy. 

If you’ve attended therapy in person before, you may have noticed those little whirring white noise machines in the waiting room. These are used to ensure each client’s privacy by masking the conversations taking place in the therapy rooms. If other members of the household are home during your child’s therapy session, consider purchasing a white noise machine to place outside of their door, just like they would have if they were at their therapist’s office. If you don’t want to order something, you can also try downloading a white noise app on your phone or digging around the web for some white noise files like this one on YouTube. Turn up the volume, and place it outside the door where the teletherapy session is taking place.


4. Let others in your household know they may not interrupt your child while in session for the next hour. 

Spending a lot of time together in our homes can result in some blurred boundaries, as our families may have become accustomed to everyone being available all day long. It is important to let others know that your child or teen will be unavailable for the duration of the therapy session (except for an actual emergency, of course). Sticking a “do not disturb” sign on the door can serve as a good reminder to the rest of the household, as well as reminding your child or teen about this boundary.  


5. Help your child set up a comfortable spot for therapy (but not their bed!). 

Therapy from bed may sound amazing in theory: it’s warm, cozy, and comfortable! While it’s important to feel comfortable for a therapy session, therapy is also real work, and is best done sitting up. Encourage your child or teen to find a cozy spot to sit (not lie down) for therapy, with a stable surface for the computer or tablet to rest. Many people (including most therapists) find that a desk with a chair is the best setup.  


6. Turn on the lights. 

Figuring out lighting for video calls can be challenging, but help your child or teen make sure that there’s enough light for their therapist to see them clearly, without any harsh backlighting from windows or overhead lights that would cause the webcam to expose what it sees incorrectly. (A very basic rule of thumb to aim for is that the face seen on camera is brighter than anything else in the viewing window.) While teletherapy is not quite the same as being in person, having a clear visual can greatly help your therapist interpret how your child or teen is feeling in the moment.  


7. Grab some water and some tissues (but not snacks). 

Therapists’ offices usually offer additional comforts, such as a water cooler and certainly a box of tissues. In the absence of being in the therapy office, consider stocking up on these familiar supplies in case your child or teen wants them during a session. Snacks, on the other hand, tend to distract from the appointment, so it’s best for your child or teen to enjoy those before or after the session.  


8. Check in on how your child or teen is feeling about the therapist and the teletherapy sessions, but don’t pry. 

In the context of so many video sessions over the past year, it’s perfectly understandable for kids and teens to feel overloaded and fatigued by so much time in front of a screen. Ask them how they’re feeling about the video sessions, and whether the therapist feels like a good fit for them, but don’t pry for more information about what they’re discussing in session. If the video format isn’t feeling right, or if the therapist doesn’t feel like the right fit, discuss this with your child or teen, and help them decide how to discuss this with their therapist. Your child’s therapist may have some helpful ideas to troubleshoot, such as holding some sessions over the phone instead, or providing a referral to another therapist.  


9. Be deliberate about keeping your child’s therapy space and time consistent. 

When your child or teen is seeing a therapist in person, the trip to your therapist’s office provides a nice opportunity to clear their head and make the transition to therapy time. When therapy takes place at the computer at home, it can be easy for appointments to sneak up on them, without that same chance to deliberately switch gears. If possible, try to provide a little buffer before the start of sessions, so that your child isn’t rushing from soccer practice into therapy without a chance to take a breath.  


10. Try not to schedule something for immediately after therapy, if possible. 

Just like creating a little time before a session for your child or teen to “get in the zone,” it’s helpful to leave some time after sessions for them to decompress and avoid feeling the pressure of needing to be “on” as soon as the session ends. Supporting a block of even 15 minutes after a therapy session to make some tea, take a walk, or have a snack before returning to the rest of their day can make a big difference.  


About the Author

Dr. Devlin Jackson, is a 1A Wellness Psychologist who specializes in working with kids and teens.

Interested in learning more about Teletherapy or In-Person Therapy with 1A Wellness? Read more about our practice here. ]


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Note on Health Insurance

1A Wellness is a self-pay out-of-network practice. As such, we do not accept health insurance. But if your healthcare plan includes an out-of-network option, partial reimbursement may be available. See our FAQ section for more information.