Seven Things Therapists Should Know Before Hosting An Online Session

Hosting an online therapy session freaks a lot of therapists out.  After all, building rapport is really important and you’ve always nurtured it via face-to-face interactions.

Believe it or not, successful video chats and building rapport through online sessions has more to do with preparation than anything else.  In case you’re about to host your first online therapy session or you’re just looking for ways to connect better with your patient via video chats, here are seven ways to set yourself up for success:

Create a Therapeutic Space

Find a blank wall for a backdrop, make sure the fan is turned off, and adjust your lighting (pro tip: stand next to a window, there’s nothing better than natural lighting when you’re on camera).

Minimize Your Face

I don’t know about you, but I can’t help but pose throughout my conversations when I can see myself in the video chat.  Minimize distractions by minimizing your face so that all your focus can be on your client.

Wear Headphones

You know when listening to music is the best?!  When it almost feels part of you.  It happens more and more with headphones and earbuds.  You can put them on and sink into a world of melodies.  The notes almost feel like they’re in your head.  It is the same idea when hosting a video session.  Minimize distractions and increase your focus by wearing earbuds.  Not only do earbuds increase connection but they improve the clarity of your voice on the receiving end.

Leave Some Shoulder Room

We want to create a better connection with our patients via video sessions, but no one wants you up in their face.  An easy way to make sure you’re not too close to the camera is to make sure you’ve got some shoulder room in the screen.  Ask yourself, “Are my shoulders showing and is there some space in the screen around them?”  If so, you’re good!

Pre-Activity Discussion

We admit, there is some information lost on a video session.  For instance, if you’re writing notes about the session on a separate piece of paper, your client might not understand why you’re looking down and to the side in the middle of a session.  So, briefly explain, “If you see me looking down, I have my notepad right here, so that’s just me taking notes on our discussion.”

Have Strong Wifi

We had a business call while the other person was driving.  The connection was terrible.  We only heard every other word and I had a headache for an hour after because I was thinking so hard trying to fill in the words I was missing.  In short, there are few things worse than a bad connection. Pre-scout wherever you’re gonna set up your tablet to ensure you have strong enough internet.

Practice Beforehand

If you’re not comfortable having a conversation with someone via facetime, building rapport with your client via a video chat is going to be nearly impossible.  Get comfortable with the platform by asking a colleague to do a few mock sessions with you.

In case you haven’t picked up on the theme for success via an online therapy session, it is: minimize distractions.

  • Blank wall so your client isn’t trying to interpret the painting behind you
  • Minimize your face so you’re not distracting yourself.
  • Headphones so the sound is in your head
  • Shoulder room so you’re not up in someone’s face
  • Pre-activity instruction so your client isn’t wondering why you aren’t “paying attention”
  • Strong wifi so you’re not cutting in and out
  • Experience and confidence so you’re not second guessing yourself

If you’ve ever thought about hosting an online therapy session or wanting to create a better experience for your client, you’re not as far away as you think.  Nurturing rapport face-to-face means you can nurture that rapport through a screen, you just have a few more things to think through before your session.

Sisi Roose is a copywriter connecting itherapy and practicing therapist with the words they need to connect with the people who need their services. As an avid journaler, she navigated her mental health journey with words. When her world took a sudden turn, it became her mission to use her writing skills and personal experiences to connect hurting souls with therapists who could help them live with freedom and joy. More information can be found at

Seven Things Therapists Should Know Before Hosting An Online Session


APA Reference
Roose, S. (2019). Seven Things Therapists Should Know Before Hosting An Online Session. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 19, 2020, from


Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 21 Sep 2019
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Sep 2019
Published on All rights reserved.