If You're Worried About Housemates Listening In on Your Virtual Therapy Sessions, Read This

Samantha Brodsky

Image Source: Getty / Yifei Fang

With the rise in tele-therapy during the coronavirus pandemic, many people have had to shift into a new normal when it comes to talking to their therapist. Or, maybe they're trying therapy for the first time now, and it's over the phone or video. Licensed professional counselor Lindsay Fleming told POPSUGAR that sometimes privacy is an issue for virtual sessions because clients might not feel comfortable addressing certain subject matter if they live with parents or roommates.

"I have found that even when parents are not listening in, there are often people moving about the home that causes my clients to feel that someone might walk in or might overhear them," Fleming said. "I have not had a parent purposefully listening in, but I have recognized a change in my client's comfortability with talking about specific topics." Finding a space in their home where they have privacy can be difficult.

Fleming posted a hilarious video on TikTok addressing this issue, seen ahead, but, on a serious note, she discussed tips for how you can navigate virtual sessions if you're worried about privacy.

@lindsay.fleminglpc

just trying to keep confidentiality! #heylinds #funny #therapist #mentalhealth #parents #teen #pov #leavingmybody #stayhomestaystrong

♬ original sound - lindsay.fleming

"I definitely believe that therapy must be a place where a client feels safe and free to talk," Fleming told POPSUGAR. If that's not the case, it impacts treatment, and that lack of a confidential and safe space could be a con of phone or video therapy. However, she said that it depends on the person, and she believes that tele-therapy, with the proper privacy, can be extremely effective.

Suggestions For Making Virtual Therapy More Private at Home

If you live with others, Fleming says her first suggestion is to set ground rules about therapy time. For instance, "explaining to the parents and client the importance of finding the best space and clear boundaries." This goes for housemates of any kind and might mean having an open conversation about how virtual therapy differs from in-person therapy, so that people understand that privacy needs to be proactively provided.

Fleming then said she gives her clients more control over where and when therapy take place. "If inside the home is not the best fit, I recommend my client sit in the car or the family leave the home for that hour," she noted. She also will send her clients questions to answer and send back to her, so they come prepared. "I have found this to help my clients feel more comfortable and get the most out of their sessions," she said.

Lastly, Fleming highly recommends headphones for sessions to promote privacy. From personal experience, I suggest also using a fan or white-noise machine to block out noise. When it comes down to it, do what makes you the most secure in your sessions.

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