These suggestions are offered to increase your confidence with teleconferencing. Those of you who use teleconferencing at work might find such tips redundant. For others, it is often awkward the first time we do something new, so I’ve included as much material as I could to help you anticipate our time together.
We begin by outlining the steps to sign on. Next, you’ll read advice here on considering the camera “backdrop,” (what’s behind you), and how the camera distorts such things as dress fabrics. This is for your own comfort. Feel free to use or abandon the suggestions. However, the suggestions for lighting, sound, and privacy are offered so that you can make the most out of your session. My goal is to help you feel comfortable saying what you want to, without fear of being overheard, and to help you to position your computer so that I can hear you plainly and see you clearly.
I hope you find this guide helpful.
How to Attend a Scheduled VSee Meeting:
Reach out to Ted at [email protected]
Pick a Quiet Place.
Ideally, choose a quiet location where you will be undisturbed during your 50-80 minute therapy time. Usually have a session from home is best, as you can control your environment and minimize concerns regarding confidentiality, but if you have a private office or conference room at work, you can use this. Couples do not need to be in the same location or use the same computer. You may use different computers to teleconference (one from work/one from home) if you prefer.
If you have children, consider scheduling your session when your children are at school, in bed, napping, or otherwise engaged. If you have older children or adults in the home, let them know how much time you’ll need undisturbed, and ask for privacy. You may also want to shut off your telephone and close (or lock) your door.
Who will participate?
Decide ahead of time who you want to be part of each Telemental health conference, and who you do not. Request that others don’t “drift into” the conversation uninvited, adding unwanted comments. If their opinion is needed, let’s plan to have them attend.
Turn off pop-ups, audio message alarms, and landlines and cell phones before you start, and close down all other browsers than the one VSee App is on.
Gather any Materials
Gather materials together for the session. Unless you are very comfortable with the telemedicine technology, it may be easier to use a pen and paper instead of taking notes on the keyboard. You don’t want to inadvertently disconnect or otherwise interfere with your session. You may also want to upload journals you’ve written, or video clips you’ve taken, that you want to share and review in session. You can do this confidentially in Via3.com. This is your time for yourself or your marriage. Set aside the time, and secure the space that you need.
VSee teleconferencing software works with Microsoft Windows and Windows-compatible Macs. The first time we teleconference, you may want to troubleshoot the technical aspects of the session, including connection, sound quality, lighting, and camera angle before we start. Remember to do this on each computer, if you are teleconferencing on separate computers.
Lighting, Setting, and Video
Check the lighting so that you are not in shadow. Don’t put bright lamp or a window behind you. It is better to have your main lighting source in front of you, to light up your face. Daylight is the most flattering, but not possible for everyone. Lamps can be helpful to allow your face to shine through. Experiment with additional light sources for the best effect. Avoid overhead lighting which throws a shadow onto your face and make you hard to see.
You have a picture-within-a-picture capability in VSee, so you can see how you look, as well as notice your own backdrop. While I have no preference how you look on camera, as long as I can see you clearly, most people find a simple, neat backdrop least disruptive to their OWN eyes as they catch themselves in the feedback camera.
Place the camera at eye level or slightly above. Many people don’t believe that camcorders take flattering video! Notice that clothing that looks good in person can often be distracting on camera. Some fabric patterns create a “psychedelic” effect.
Also, be fully dressed. While some are tempted to wear night clothes from the waist down, thinking it won’t show on camera, you may want to re-think this. I want you to feel equally comfortable stand up, reach for something while on camera, or taking a break if you need to.
“Why aren’t you looking at me?”
During the session, you will notice that you can either look at me in the monitor or look into the camera. This is true for me as well. If you feel like I’m not “looking you in the eye” it is because I am looking directly at you but via the computer screen. I will try to vary my gaze both ways. If you move the teleconference service window (usually up and centered) on your screen as close to your webcam as possible, it will minimize the distortion of “looking away when I’m looking at you” phenomenon.
Headsets enhance your privacy, as no one can hear my words but you, and external mics enable you to talk softly, as your voice doesn’t have to travel across the computer to reach a built-in computer microphone. You might find that a plug-in headset and wired computer setup is clearer than Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Also remember that there may be some audio delay, so I may pause a few beats to be sure that you have finished speaking before I responding.
Unavoidable Session Interruptions
Sessions for individuals are 45 minutes long and 80 minutes for couples. We will both work hard to create a distraction-free session, and give you my full attention. But sometimes interruptions are unavoidable. Connections get lost, requiring a reconnection, my dogs bark (in my home office)! Some mutual patience is necessary.
At the end of our session, remember that turning off the camera and disconnecting from the teleconference session are two different actions. Make sure you have completed both, for your own privacy.
I hope you will find, as I have, that despite the difficulties, video conferencing through Telemental health provides valuable opportunities to connect in situations where it might not otherwise be possible. I hope you find this experience rewarding.
Kathy A. McMahon, Psy.D.