The aim of this section is to set out how I work and interact online to help alleviate any concerns or fears as most of us now occupy an online presence.
Online counselling was not as popular before Covid but it has always been around. It is a little different from face-to-face counselling depending on the medium, but it offers more flexibility and allows you to access counselling support from the comfort and safety of your home. This is ideal for shift workers, busy families or if you generally find face to face counselling too invasive or difficult.I am a registered member of the BACP and the Association for Counselling & Therapy Online (ACTO). ACTO is the national professional body for qualified, professional counsellors and psychotherapists working online and they are committed to setting and maintaining the highest standards of online therapy work. Their professional level 2 membership required me taking an additional 119 hours of specialised training to qualify for a diploma in online counselling to ensure I work safely and ethically online.
How does online Counselling work?
I aim to build a warm, safe and non-judgemental counselling space where we will work together to help understand your issues and develop self-awareness. Online counselling starts by going through some basic information and assessment via email. Please see the FAQ section for more detailed information about assessment.
We will then agree an appointment time which may take place via videocall (webcam), voicecall (or phone), email or instant messaging (IM). The medium may change through-out the course of your therapy depending on your needs.
Once we have agreed a time and day I will send you a link to your session at least 24 hours prior. I currently use zoom to deliver therapy by videocall due to its security and encryption features.
Voicecall (or phone)
I use zoom for voicecall with the camera turned off (or phone) and will send you a link to your session at least 24 hours prior.
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 your session. My Protonmail email account is email@example.com and the way it work 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 (more than 1000 words) 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. This could be weekly or more frequently if you request this although I charge by the therapy hour.
Instant Message (IM)
For instant message I use the chat function on zoom with video and sound turned off or WhatsApp. I will message you on the start of the agreed day and time and our conversation will last an hour.
Communicating online has vastly become a norm in the wake of the pandemic but there are some profound differences in comparison to face to face communication and misunderstandings are more likely to happen. We are not always aware of such things and people can feel safer saying things online that they might not necessarily say to someones face (online disinhibition) as they can remain invisible . So I invite all my clients to read through the netiquette page before our first session that are aimed at making online communications with others a more mindful and positive experience.
Misunderstandings are more likely to happen when working online due to the lack of physical presence and non-verbal cues. Therefore, I always encourage you to seek clarity on any aspects of communication you are unsure about and I will do the same.
We may experience technical issues from time to time during our online sessions and so it is important that we both take steps to minimise the chance of this happening by:
-Checking that you have a reliable internet connection
-Check who else might be using it at the same time as your session
-Is your computer up to date enough to function reasonably
-Checking any equipment, you are using has enough charge
If our session is affected by technological problems that affect our ability to communicate then we should both:
Interruptions may happen from time to time during our sessions together online and it is important that we both take steps to minimise the chance of this happening. The following are useful measures: checking that you have a reliable internet connection, thinking about who else may be using it during the session time, checking your computer is up to date enough to function reasonably well and checking your equipment has enough charge etc.
If our session is affected by technology problems that affect our ability to communicate then we should both:
-Log out of the system
-Wait a few minutes
-Attempt to log back in and reconnect
If this doesn’t work, I will call you on the phone number you have provided, and we will continue our session from there or reschedule the session for another day.
Please see the FAQ session for in-depth information in regards to confidentiality between counsellor and client.
In order to maintain confidentiality when working online via video call, voice only, email or instant messaging (IM), please ensure that you are in a room which is free from interruption by another person for the duration of our session. If interruptions occur then we will have to terminate the session or reschedule.
It is not permissible to record or publicise the content of our sessions whether written (email or IM) or verbal (video or voice call) or share them with a third party or other aspects of personal and public forums.
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.