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RCORP - Rural Center of Excellence on SUD Prevention

Tips for Therapists for First Online Group Session

Structure your first group session with intention

  • Orient members to videoconferencing group therapy.
  • Share what the patient can expect from this kind of treatment.
  • What will happen if they get disconnected—the host will try to help and get them back into the meeting.


  • Express the importance of meeting in a private area.
  • Be aware of your own space.
  • Use of headphones can help eliminate extra noise/interruptions and support privacy.

Recognize the differences between online and in person

  • It may help to normalize the process if you share your experience with telework and create a sense of relatability with your patients.
  • Goals are still to create cohesion, connection, and sense of belonging.
  • Be cognizant to not do all the talking.
  • Remember that patients are going to be somewhat in crisis due to COVID-19.
  • Be flexible with your expectations for the online session or group to accommodate what patients need during this time.
  • You may need to increase your attunement to client response—what are their reactions? What might they not be saying?

Learn more about videoconferencing group therapy.