ONLINE THERAPY

Introduction to Online Therapy/Counselling

Can it work?

Psychological research so far suggests that online therapy may benefit clients that don’t have access to face-to-face therapy, for instance people living in rural areas. The advantage of easy access can also prove useful for:

  • People that are really busy
  • People that can’t get away when they don’t have childcare
  • Expats that live abroad
  • People such as carers who can’t get out
  • People who want their sessions during work breaks/lunch hour etc.

What are the other advantages?

Online therapy is recommended for short-term and brief interventions, but can also be long-term depending on the circumstances.

Note: You will be initially provided with an Informed Consent Form. This is the legal procedure and gives the client an overview of online therapy including detailed information regarding the way the sessions will be conducted.

Online Counselling is just like having face-to-face counselling, except you will talk to the counsellor online using a secure video link. Online sessions are available for couples and individuals.

If you and your partner live in different places online counselling is an easy way for you both to take part in a session from separate locations.

Technology

All you need to use online counselling service is a computer, laptop, telephone or a device with a webcam. Once you've booked a session you will receive an email prior to the appointment with the details of your booking with a link to access your session.

At the time of your appointment, just click the link and you’ll be connected to a video call with myself.

I use Zoom to provide our Online Counselling. If you've never used Zoom before when you click the link you may be asked to install a plugin to connect your camera with your web browser. Follow the on-screen instructions and select 'Run' to install.

Privacy

Zoom the online platform I use to deliver Counselling, will not collect your personal information and sessions are not recorded. Video calls take place using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption to ensure they remain confidential.

Zoom uses cookies. However, these will not contain identifiable information about you or your counselling session.

If you want to delete all traces of Zoom you'll need to:

  • Uninstall Zoom
  • Delete your internet history for the day you had counselling
  • Delete any cookies Zoom has left on your device. You can get more information about deleting cookies on the Information Commissioner's Office website.

What is Zoom

Online counselling using Zoom video-conferencing software

Online counselling can be a useful alternative to traditional face-to-face counselling. Therapists have been using various forms of online counselling for years and many clients have found it valuable.

What is online counselling?

Online counselling follows the same fundamental principles as face-to-face counselling. It provides a secure alternative if circumstances prevent us from meeting in person. Instead of a weekly appointment in my consulting room, we hold the session from our own separate locations using a webcam and audio link.

The confidentiality and security of your therapy remains central to all parts of the process.

As the coronavirus social-distancing and self-isolation restrictions mean most counsellors and clients are currently unable to continue meeting face-to-face, I'm offering clients the option to have online counselling via Zoom™ video-conferencing software. This is an established, secure platform used by many online therapists. You can find out more about Zoom at zoom.us.

Possible advantages:

You will be able to continue to have counselling and my support even though we can't meet. However, not everyone finds this approach practical or helpful so please think about it carefully and talk it through with me by phone or email before you decide to proceed.

You may find the process of communicating from your own protected safe space very helpful in itself. Some clients say they actually find it easier to talk about some things when they're not the in the same room as their therapist (although this may not be the case for you).

I may be able to offer you more flexibility online, for example if you have to change location for any reason, you'll still be able to continue with your sessions, as long as you have access to your device.

Possible disadvantages or difficulties:

it may feel strange to work without the same ‘cues’ that arise when we're in the same room together and you may find it harder to communicate exactly what you're feeling. In direct face-to-face communication we pick up information from facial expressions, voice tone, body language, and even the clothes people are wearing, which may be less obvious when working online.

You may find yourself exploring things that you wouldn't feel able to say when we're together in person. This might lead to unexpectedly heightened emotional responses both during the session and afterwards. It's important to be aware of this and I'll explore this with you regularly with you as a central and ongoing part of the process.

Occasionally technological problems can arise which affect the online link. We'll discuss alternative means of contact and have an agreed course of action in case this happens.

You’ll be responsible for ensuring privacy at your end. You'll need to be able to shut the door on any noise, ensure that no one interrupts us and turn off telephones and other forms of contact.

You may find it confusing to see us both on the screen at the same time. We'll discuss ways to resolve this - for example, I can help you to turn off your own video screen, if you prefer, once we've made contact.

How does it work?

(The instructions below refer to computer or laptop. You can also use Zoom™ on a phone or tablet using the Zoom app, which you can download from your app store. This works in the same way although the screen may differ slightly from that on a computer.)

If you want to go ahead with your counselling in this way:

We’ll agree on the date and time of your online session in the usual way (usually by email)

A few minutes before the session starts, I'll send you an email invitation to join the Zoom meeting. This will contain a link which you should click on. As long as you can see the link has come from my email account at the expected time, this link will be safe.

The first time you open the link, Zoom will guide you through the process. It will ask your permission to upload the software to your computer and then take you to the meeting. This only takes a short time.

You’ll be asked to ‘Open Zoom meetings’. You may also be prompted about using your computer audio and video.

When you've done this, you'll find yourself in the meeting room, where I'll be waiting for you. This is a confidential and secure space.

I will send an invitation to a new meeting each time. This ensures that the space is never available to any other client.

Security

Although online counselling can never be 100% secure, there are several things you can and should do to reduce any risk:

Always use a password to access your computer and change your password frequently

Keep the security software (virus protection, firewall) on your computer up to date

Check regularly for software updates for your video and audio communication software

Plan your session for a time when you know you can have privacy, making sure others in the house know not to disturb or interrupt you

Find a safe and undisturbed space where you can set up your device and sit comfortably for the whole session

Close all other open browsers and programmes on your computer as these can affect the connection and either slow it down or cause the screen to freeze

It's important that we both take confidentiality very seriously. You need to take personal responsibility for your own computer security and ensure that confidentiality is protected. Let me know straight away if you have any concerns that the security and confidentiality of our sessions is or has been compromised.