How to Connect With a Patient While Counseling Remotely

Right now, you’re conducting all patient appointments on a remote basis. This likely will be the new normal for at least the next several months, so you’re working hard to provide the best possible care to your behavioral health patients from afar. Generally speaking, you feel like things are going okay, but you’re not connecting with patients as well as you’d like.

It’s important not to let your bedside manner go by the wayside just because you’re not physically present with patients. If you can’t engage your patients and make them feel safe, they won’t trust you and adhere to the treatment plan you create for them.

Use this advice to deepen your bond with both new and existing patients, so they feel like you’re there for them. 

Introduce Yourself 

When you see a new patient, take a few minutes to get acquainted at the beginning of their first appointment. Tell them a little about yourself and what to expect from your time together, to help them feel more comfortable with you. Ask them what they hope to get from your sessions and if they have any questions before getting started. 

Be Mindful of Your Body Language 

You understand the importance of displaying proper body language in a normal healthcare environment, but admittedly, you’ve been a bit lax at home. It’s important to make sure your words align with your nonverbal actions, so patients feel supported. For example, failing to smile can cause a patient to feel like you’re angry when you’re actually deep in thought. Or, slouching in your chair could just be more comfortable, but a patient might feel you’re disinterested. 

Show Empathy 

Behavioral health patients can be very vulnerable. People often share things about themselves they haven’t told anyone else, so displaying compassion is a must. This will put them at ease, so they want to continue sharing with you. If people feel judged or otherwise uncomfortable, they won’t open up, which will prevent them from receiving the care they need. 

Focus Solely on Them 

Your home is filled with distractions. Therefore, it’s important to create a designated space to speak with patients, where you can concentrate solely on them. Interruptions from family members, your phone ringing in the background, and any other loud noises will distract both you and the patient. This will hinder their care and make them feel like they’re not a priority, so make arrangements before the session to ensure you can work without interruption. 

Practice Using Technology Beforehand 

Learning to use videoconferencing technology can be tricky  especially if you’re not particularly tech-savvy. It’s important to work out the kinks before you start seeing patients because technical issues can completely overshadow an appointment. For example, if you can’t hear a patient and have to spend the first 15 minutes of the session fixing your audio, you’re not providing effective care. 

Practice using these tools with family and friends, so you can solve any issues on their time, instead of your patients’.  

Many healthcare organizations are hiring during the pandemic, so consider making a career move. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you find your next behavioral health position, contact us today at (513) 651-9500 or by email at info@psychpros.com. 

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