Matthew Cuddeback LCSW

We are all taking the roller coaster ride of the COVID-19 pandemic together, and as we all know, it can be incredibly uncomfortable and awkward when we are trying to connect with others remotely. Working from home means more of us are connecting to the world online and perhaps this is most obvious in our Zoom meetings. It is important to acknowledge and process the inherent discomfort in our lives, for that reason we will talk a bit about video-therapy absurdities and my thoughts as a therapist doing all of my work on video.

  • Your Therapist Feels Awkward Too – It gets easier with time, but there is no question that we feel the awkwardness of getting on a video session and doing the deep and meaningful connecting we do with you. Sometimes we worry about getting disconnected. We worry about our surroundings and our internet and if we are getting the timing right for responding and listening. We feel awkward too. We also are aware that in a live session we don’t stare at each other the whole time, sometimes the client or the therapist finds it appropriate to look away or not make as much eye contact, in video sessions this is not as easy to manage.
  • Paying Attention to The Background – We pay attention to your background. I enjoy seeing what my client’s homes look like. I also know it is very personal and can be uncomfortable, so I try to engage at times about things I see but try to do so in an inviting and connecting way. We also worry about what’s around us and do what we can to make sure it is not unprofessional or distracting.
  • We Stress About Internet Connections – This is the worst part of video sessions. I am always focused on you, but there is no question that I also am worried about any issues with connectivity that might arise and get in the way of what we are trying to do. Therapists doing telehealth sessions are completely understanding about any issues you may have with the internet, because we all know how it can be to be the one who has a bad connection.
  • Non-Verbal Communication is Complicated – A big part of what a therapist does is pay attention to non-verbal communication. If you are tapping your foot out of anxiousness, or you shift in your seat when we talk about something uncomfortable, we pay attention to this information. With video sessions, there is a lot we can’t see and that means we are not always picking up on certain important pieces of our session. It may mean we miss something, or we might bring it up in a way that is more awkward than in person.
  • We All Are Empathetic to Distraction – My daughter might show up on camera, or your dog may knock over your laptop while we are meeting. Maybe you are getting a bunch of work emails popping up and I get a delivery that I need to buzz the door for. We are all balancing a much less obviously divided life at the moment and that means sometimes things are going to get in the way. That’s okay, we all can be empathic with each other about this as it’s something that is a fact of life.

This is an obviously difficult and awkward time, let’s just take a moment to recognize none of us are perfect — especially at this moment. A lot of what we are doing is imperfect. The sooner we acknowledge this the sooner we can connect better and work together to get to a more honest place. Your therapist feels awkward about video sessions as well and struggles with the typical work-life balance many of us are struggling with now, but we are still here to support you and work with you through these difficult times. Furthermore, with all the awkwardness involved, it is still an amazing privilege to be able to connect with our clients from a distance.

If you want to arrange an appointment for online counseling in Chicago, please contact Symmetry Counseling to get started. We’re here for you now and always.