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10 Tips for Doing Online Counseling Like a Web Pro

Online Counseling

As more therapists and counselors move to do online sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic, we thought we’d share a couple of tips to make the most of your online video counseling sessions.

You want the tools and technology to fade into the background as much as possible so you and your client can do the deep work together.

Whether you’re using Zoom, Doxy, Simple Practice or another solution, keep in mind, the biggest problems with online video meetings come down to the quality of two things:

  • Your Internet
  • Audio and Video

Here are 10 tips for maximizing the video quality of your online counseling sessions:

1. Ensure Speedy, Reliable Internet

Run a speed test on your Internet and compare it to your online video platforms requirements. Then do test calls with a colleague, or use run a test meeting with Zoom, Doxy and Simple Practice here.

You might want to bump up your Internet package’s speed to ensure good video and audio streaming, especially if you’ve just got the basic package.

2. Use Headphones

Not just out of privacy concerns, but also because it helps with potential audio echo issues in online meetings. Often the headphones that came with your smartphone will usually do a great job and plug straight into your laptop. I keep my headphones near my desk.

3. Consider a Mic

If you’ve got a relatively new laptop, the microphone from your laptop will likely do just fine. If you want to upgrade, the Rode NT-USB Mini USB Microphone ($99) is a great buy and can be used to podcasts and webinar interviews.

4. Minimize Background Distractions

Think about what’s behind you when you’re on camera. If you’re working in a makeshift home office, you could use a Changing Screen behind you.

5. Have Good Lighting

You want to be sure your face is well lit on screen at different times of day. I setup my desk directly in front of a window for natural light to illuminate my face, but you can also use a lamp. Again, test out different options and if you do day and evening sessions. A ring light like this one is also an affordable way to get some light on your face.

6. Raise Your Camera to Eye Level

If you’re using your laptop, most times you are looking down into the camera. But with online video, you want to look directly into the camera at eye level so that the person on the other side thinks you’re looking right at them.

You can use a simple storage box to prop your laptop (and thus camera) up to eye level, or a laptop stand for $20 like this.

7. Turn Off Notifications and Quit All Apps

Right before your online session, be sure to set Do Not Disturb on your computer so that notifications don’t pop up during your meeting. You also want to quit all your applications except for the video platform you’re using with your clients for a couple of reasons but mainly to free up processing on your computer.

Also, put your phone on Airplane Mode so there isn’t any buzzing or ringing. Even on silent mode, the buzzes on a desk near your mic can be picked up in the session.

8. Use Full Screen Mode

When you’re in the session with your client, use Full Screen Mode on your video platform, so you see your client’s face as big as possible on your screen. This way you see facial expressions better and also minimize distractions on your screen (like a browser tab or files on your desktop).

9. Get Close to WiFi or Even Better, Plug In

Video uses a lot of Internet bandwidth and even though WiFi technology has gotten better there are still intermittent issues. If you can, use an ethernet cable from your computer to plug directly into your router/modem. And at a minimum get as close as you can to your router.

10. Have a Backup Plan

Technology will invariably fail. Glitches happen. Always have a backup plan and options for online video and the glitches. For many that might mean a backup phone number to call, or a backup video platform.


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