How to get the most out of teletherapy - Drew Ramsey MD

Like many of us, you may have found yourself “face to face” with your therapist over the past six months. For some, it has been a big shift and has come with a lot of trepidation. For others, it seemed like a natural and easy shift, one that made sense given the available technology and safety concerns.

While we’ve been seeing patients remotely for years, over the past six months our practice has become entirely remote. 

For those of you wanting to get more out of your teletherapy sessions, here are some tips based on what we’ve seen and learned:


Take some time before each session to get into the headspace for therapy. It can be hard to switch from spreadsheets to emotions, especially without a transition period or change in scenery. If you’re working from home, try stepping outside for a moment or getting up and moving your body. Remember to close any apps that might distract you during your session and if you’re able, put away your phone or put it in do not disturb mode.

If you have the space, choose a comfortable and private place in your home for sessions. If you don’t have a lot of privacy, is there someplace outside that works? Both Dr. Ramsey and I have patients that meet with us from their cars, and it works. 

Whenever patients come into my office I offer them water or tea. Is there something you can do to mark the transition into therapy? One of my patients makes herself a cup of tea before each session to mimic what would happen in the office. Another patient likes to move to a comfortable chair with a warm blanket. One of the benefits of seeing a therapist from your home is that you can set up the space just as you like. 

Another way to prepare is to think about what you want to address in your session. Some of my patients come to sessions with a list of important topics to cover, whether it’s insights from the week, memories that have come up they want to discuss, or specific events they had trouble with or are really proud of. Writing these things down and sharing them with your therapist can help with time management and making sure we address what’s most important to you within the session.

Use the time between sessions

Some people think of therapy as an hour in an office. It’s true. And, therapy can be so much more. Some great ways to continue with the work you are doing between sessions are:

  • Journaling about what you are feeling and thinking between sessions.
  • Setting aside a few moments after each session to reflect and process. You might want to take some notes or leave yourself a voice note about what was impactful for you.
  • Reading books, blogs or articles about the topics you find yourself discussing in therapy.
  • Listening to podcasts on mental health, personal growth or mindfulness.
  • Use tools like this list of feelings to help you identify and explore what comes up for you in difficult moments throughout the week. 
  • Developing a mindfulness practice such as meditation (sitting or walking), breathwork, mindful movement such as yoga, chi-gong or dance (the choices are infinite), or interpersonal meditations like circling or authentic relating. 

Be clear about your goals

(and make sure your therapist knows them, too)

Why are you in therapy? Just like with anything you devote time and resources to, it’s important to know the why. Some people come to therapy because they are struggling with specific symptoms that are impacting their lives. Other people chose to focus on improving their partnerships or relationships with their kids. When you are clear about your goals you can better measure the effectiveness of therapy and your therapist can help redirect and refocus sessions when necessary. 

Goals also change over time, especially in longer-term treatment. For some people, therapy becomes weekly “me time”, a form of self-care that may not have a specific goal but helps you feel better, think more clearly, and approach yourself with more compassion. There’s no wrong or right way to approach therapy, but if you’re feeling like you’re struggling with teletherapy, reevaluating your goals with your therapist may be a good place to start. 

I hope these tips help you get the most out of your sessions. If you have other tips, please drop them in the comment box below. 

To your health,


Eat Complete

Winner of a 2017 IACP Cookbook Award  •  Finalist for a Books for a Better Life Award

Named one of the top health and wellness books for 2016 by Well + Good and MindBodyGreen


From leading psychiatrist and author of Fifty Shades of Kale comes a collection of 100 simple, delicious, and affordable recipes to help you get the core nutrients your brain and body need to stay happy and healthy.

What does food have to do with brain health? Everything.

Your brain burns more of the food you eat than any other organ. It determines if you gain or lose weight, if you’re feeling energetic or fatigued, if you’re upbeat or depressed. In this essential guide and cookbook, Drew Ramsey, MD, explores the role the human brain plays in every part of your life, including mood, health, focus, memory, and appetite, and reveals what foods you need to eat to keep your brain—and by extension your body—properly fueled.

Drawing upon cutting-edge scientific research, Dr. Ramsey identifies the twenty-one nutrients most important to brain health and overall well-being—the very nutrients that are often lacking in most people’s diets. Without these nutrients, he emphasizes, our brains and bodies don’t run the way they should.

Eat Complete includes 100 appetizing, easy, gluten-free recipes engineered for optimal nourishment. It also teaches readers how to use food to correct the nutrient deficiencies causing brain drain and poor health for millions. For example:

• Start the day with an Orange Pecan Waffle or a Turmeric Raspberry Almond Smoothie, and the Vitamin E found in the nuts will work to protect vulnerable brain fat (plus the fiber keeps you satisfied until lunch).

• Enjoy Garlic Butter Shrimp over Zucchini Noodles and Mussels with Garlicky Kale Ribbons and Artichokes, and the zinc and magnesium from the seafood will help stimulate the growth of new brain cells.

• Want to slow down your brain’s aging process? Indulge with a cup of Turmeric Cinnamon Hot Chocolate, and the flavanols found in chocolate both increase blood flow to the brain and help fight age-related memory decline.

Featuring fifty stunning, full-color photographs, Eat Complete helps you pinpoint the nutrients missing from your diet and gives you tasty recipes to transform your health—and ultimately your life.


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The Happiness Diet

For the first time in history, too much food is making us sick. It's all too apparent that the Modern American Diet (MAD) is expanding our waistlines; what's less obvious is that it's starving and shrinking our brains. Rates of obesity and depression have recently doubled, and while these epidemics are closely linked, few experts are connecting the dots for the average American.

Using the latest data from the rapidly changing fields of neuroscience and nutrition, The Happiness Dietshows that over the past several generations small, seemingly insignificant changes to our diet have stripped it of nutrients--like magnesium, vitamin B12, iron, and vitamin D, as well as some very special fats--that are essential for happy, well-balanced brains. These shifts also explain the overabundance of mood-destroying foods in the average American's diet and why they predispose most of us to excessive weight gain.

After a clear explanation of how we've all been led so far astray, The Happiness Diet empowers the reader with simple, straightforward solutions. Graham and Ramsey show you how to steer clear of this MAD way of life with foods to swear off, shopping tips, brain-building recipes, and other practical advice, and then remake your diet by doubling down on feel-good foods--even the all-American burger.


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Fifty Shades of Kale

Kale gets sexy in Fifty Shades of Kale by Drew Ramsey, M.D., and Jennifer Iserloh, with 50 recipes that are mouth-wateringly delicious and do a body good.
Release yourself from the bondage of guilt and start cooking meals with the ingredients you love: meat, cheese, and yes—even butter. Nutrient-rich kale provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy, happy, and lean—so you can indulge in your most delicious desires. Whether you’re a cooking novice or a real kale submissive, you will undoubtedly succumb to Kale’s charms.

From Mushroom and Kale Risotto to Kale Kiwi Gazpacho, Fifty Shade of Kale offers simple ways to have your kale and eat it, too, as well as nutritional information, cooking tips, and a tutorial on kale in all her glorious shades.
Indulge your culinary passions with Fifty Shades of Kale: 50 Fresh and Satisfying Recipes That Are Bound to Please.


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