In a rapidly evolving digital era, most of us occupy an online presence which can sometimes create difficulties when communicating or maintaining therapeutic boundaries online. Thus the aim of this policy is to set out how I work and interact online.
I am a registered member of the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and Professional Level 2 member of The Association of Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO) and adhere to both organisations ethical frameworks promoting a safe and confidential practice. Part of this requirement is that I attend monthly supervision with a supervisor that is experienced in both face to face and online counselling in order to promote best practice.
I only work with clients in the United Kingdom at present due to the differing laws and practice in other countries.
I am only trained to work with adults of 18 years online.
Prior to starting online counselling we will go through an online assessment together to check whether online counselling is suitable for you. Not every difficulty is appropriate to work with online due to distance and support systems not being as readily available as they would be in face to face counselling but this is decided on an individual basis. If I feel that you may need support during our work together then it is usual for me to work with you to put together a safety plan of support or coping strategies you can use between sessions should you become overwhelmed.
If for any reason I am unable to support you online I can help you to find a suitable alternative in your area.
Please note for email therapy you will need to have a Protonmail account in place prior, please see below for more details.
Our online relationship will remain a professional relationship as I have an ethical duty to maintain boundaries in order to provide you with a safe and confidential space. Clients can sometimes find this difficult due to the intimate nature of counselling and it is something I will always talk to you about if I thought you struggling with it. Contact between sessions is limited to me sending you resources or information and changes in arrangements only, unless otherwise agreed.
A.I.M promotes and encourages online netiquette by modelling such behaviour as the absence of a physical person, voice or nonverbal body language can sometimes cause us to feel more disinhibited and say things that we may not necessarily say in person. This can be positive as it may help you to express yourself in a way that you struggle with face to face. It is something that could also lead to misunderstandings so I always have in mind that I am talking to another human being and as such consider how my communication may be perceived.
We have seen above how the online relationship can be prone to misunderstandings and therefore I always encourage you to seek clarity on any aspects of communication you are unsure about and I will do the same.
I personally have limited social media presence and do not use social media professionally at this time. In order to maintain professional boundaries, I will not be able to accept any invitations for contact with current or past clients and I will not initiate contact with clients via social media sites or forums.
It is not permissible to publicise the content of our written or verbal communication or share them with a third party or other aspects of personal and public forums.
Website Contact Form
All information that you send via the contact form on the website is encrypted as the website has been designed to use web industry standard encryption called SSL. This stands for Security Socket Layer which shows as a padlock in the URL bar. This ensures that all data sent from the web browser is encrypted in transit.
Email for enquiries
A.I.M uses Gmail to receive and respond to general enquiries which is encrypted using transport layer security (TLS). As long as the recipients email also supports TLS then the email will be encrypted. Please note that all email communication is subject to human error and it is advisable to consider what you might include. I use a separate email for sending or receiving sensitive information or documentation, please see below.
Protonmail Secure Email for Assessment and Email Therapy Sessions
Email therapy is conducted via a secure email platform Protonmail which uses end to end encryption developed by CERN and MIT scientists. You will need to register for a free account at www.protonmail.com prior to assessment.
My Protonmail email account is firstname.lastname@example.org and the way it works is we agree on a time and day and you send me your therapy email at least 48 hours prior. I will then spend an hour putting together my response. If the length of the email too long I may not be able to respond to it all within the hour and will bring this to your attention. Rest assured it will have been read. It is useful to consider what is the most pressing issue that you wish to explore at the time.
Therapy Via Webcam
I am currently using Zoom to deliver therapy via a webcam which encrypts meetings and provides a password. There is no need to download any software I just send you a link via email inviting you to the meeting at a specified time. If you have any queries on this please do get in touch.
Therapy via Instant Messaging (IM)
I use a number of different IM sources which provide end to end encryption such as the zoom chat facility and WhatsApp.
If for any reason we experience technical issues during a ‘real time’ appointment then I will try to re-connect with you, if this is not possible then we will finish the session on agreed alternative which may be email or phone.
I use a secure online invoicing platform called Stripe for all payment transactions which allows me to generate invoices and send a payment link to your chosen email address. Stripe is one of the top online platforms in the payment card industry and has top-level security (PCI Level 1). Please note payment is due 24 hours prior to your session taking place.
I understand that as a client you may have used a search engine to find a therapist and will find such information about me and my work online and via my website. Please note I do not make a search of any of my clients before meeting them, during therapy or thereafter unless I had express permission from the client to do so as it was pertinent to our work.