I’ve been experimenting of late with the way I show up in online video psychotherapy sessions. I’d noticed a pattern in the way I was sensing and relating with clients depending on how much of them I could see. It’s easy when using a small screen to end up with only your head, or just your head and shoulders visible, it’s what we often do when we’re video-calling people.
I noticed by experimenting that when people could see me from the waist upwards, the depth of our connection and the nature of our work changed. It was as if bringing more of my physical self into view enabled clients to bring more of themselves emotionally into the room also. We laugh more, cry more, and speak about a wider range of experience, and get to more meaningful perspectives about what is brought into the room.
It may not seem so polite to ask people to adjust their device to change what you can see when you are speaking to them, but it may really change the nature of the dialogue between you if you do. First, make sure you are visible, by moving further away from your screen, and adjusting it so that your top half is captured on-screen. Then, check in with how this is for the other person, and ask them to adjust too, if you and they are comfortable with this.
Lock-down has accelerated new ways of being with each other, with much more flexibility, variety of who we connect with digitally, and the opportunity to be with people who are not physically present suddenly seems more acceptable and viable across wider groups of people. Giving some thought to how you do this, and how you make the most of your presence, can make a big difference to what everyone takes from the experience.