Thanks to COVID, most of us are working online now with our clients. Let’s look at a few things we can do to make sure that we’re providing a good service to our clients.
Use a laptop or desktop computer
You want a large, high-resolution image to come through for your clients. Smart phones and tablets don’t work well for this – the image your client sees will typically be smaller, and your view of the client will also be smaller. This makes it harder to catch subtle cues from your client and calibrate accordingly. It also gives an unprofessional feel if your client realizes you’re working from a phone or tablet. So go for the computer!
Make sure your camera is positioned level with your eyes
We don’t want your client looking up your nose! Also beware of appearing too far away from your client (too small in the picture).You may need to put your laptop or screen on top of a stack of books to raise it up off of your desk. Try to adjust it so that your whole head and shoulders are visible. This is also more ergonomic for you and will help reduce your own Zoom fatigue.
Avoid having an open window or light source behind you
This will tend to light up the background, but your face will be dark and hard to make out for your client. Remember, they are co-regulating with you and looking at your face and body language for signs of safety or danger. A dark, unclear face would signal danger to their nervous system. If you can’t change your desk’s location, try buying a small light to put in front of you to light your face and balance out the light in the room.
Watch for reflections in your glasses
When your room is dark, often the glow from the computer screen will show up as a green reflection in your classes and completely obscure your eyes. This will certainly break rapport if your client can’t see your eyes! Also watch out for a harsh light casting shadows from your glasses frame onto your eyes. It can really change your expression in a negative way to have harsh shadows over and under your eyes. Try getting a small desk light. You can cut out a piece of parchment paper and hang it in front of the light to soften it. This will add brightness without the reflection of the light in your glasses, and will eliminate most of the shadows. You can also invest in bigger lights called “soft boxes” that provide a nice quality of light and don’t cast shadows or reflections.
Have a professional background
Clean up a messy space, and put away the laundry or personal items that don’t belong in a professional setting. Check how your “scene” looks over Zoom (or your chosen app) – it may be quite different than how it looks in real life! Try asking a friend or family member for their opinion. If you’re not sure how to decorate, a nice picture of nature or water is a safe bet to create a peaceful and neutral setting. Beware of signs that have a political or religious message that could turn off your clients. If all else fails, or you’re travelling, use a virtual background with Zoom. Remember to keep it professional and neutral.
Check your internet connection
You can google “speed test” and run one on your connection for free. It just takes a few seconds. You’ll want a connection that can support at least 25mbps download speed and 9mbps upload speed. The upload speed is the one that gets capped the lowest – it’s the bottleneck. If it’s too low, your client will complain that your connection is choppy. Beware that even with 25mbps, you can still have connection issues if others in your household are streaming videos, music or playing videogames. Sometimes apps like DropBox or others that store your data on the cloud will use up all of your upload bandwidth when they are syncing. Disable syncing and set limits on family members’ internet use during your sessions, or invest in a better internet connection.
Have a backup plan if the internet fails
How will you reach your client to let them know? Can you switch to data and use your phone as a hotspot to finish the session? Will you offer a refund or reschedule? Think about what your policy will be if it’s your client’s internet connection that fails. Whatever it is, put it in writing in your contract so that your client is aware of what their responsibilities are ahead of time. It’s always a good idea to ask your client to use a laptop or desktop computer, as opposed to their phone, and that they have a reliable internet connection to be able to meet with you.
Make sure your space is private
Can others in your household hear your sessions? You must to be able to ensure the confidentiality of your clients’ personal information. Consider if you need to make some household rules, like staying off the upstairs floor while you’re in session. You can also buy a simple and cheap noise maker to drown out sounds in the hallway. These can make various sounds, from white noise, to thunder, or crashing waves. These can help drown out voices if it’s not practical to keep people away from your office door. Usually they won’t be picked up by your microphone in your office. And of course, your space should have a door. It can be handy to hang a “do not disturb” sign on the door handle to let housemates/family members know not to disturb you. Don't let your children and pets interrupt you in session – arrange childcare or petcare if needed!
Consider getting a separate microphone, but avoid headphones
Depending on the built-in mic in your computer, your voice may be fine… or it may sound very echoey. If you’re serious about doing EFT sessions for a living, investing in a mic can make a big difference in how professional you sound and how soothing your voice is to your client. I’ve also noticed that a higher quality mic keeps the tapping sounds from interfering with the clarity of my voice. I don’t recommend using headphones with a mic. When we see someone wearing headphones, we unconsciously assume the other person is listening to something else and not us. This cue can subtly affect rapport between you and your client, who may unconsciously feel that you’re not really present and listening to them.
Protect the confidentiality of your client’s information
Are you sharing the computer you’re working at with others in your household? Remember that access to your appointment calendar, emails and any digital notes must be restricted. Consider how you’ll protect your client’s information – such as by logging out of your calendar and disabling password keychains, password protecting files and folders, disguising names, and so on. Likewise with physical files, you’ll want to keep these in a cabinet under lock and key, that no one else in your household has access to. Figure out a plan for how you’ll destroy sensitive information. Do you have a paper shredder or fireplace? Session notes and personal health information should never go straight out on the curb for garbage day.
Beware of putting your clients’ personal information online
Avoid the need to send written personal information across the internet. Even email isn’t 100% secure. Likewise, it’s preferable to use a video calling app that offers enhanced encryption and security, and to discuss private information on that channel only. There are many options for apps out there. Don’t let your client send credit card information by email. And keep your intake forms limited to the information you actually need to collect ahead of time. Think: do you really need to know your client’s date of birth and full medical history? Remember to comply with your local/federal regulations around the collection of private information (i.e. depending on your country: PIPEDA, GDPR, HIPAA...).