Telephone and Online counselling work much like therapy in person. Sessions last for 50 minutes, usually on a weekly basis, and offer a number of benefits.
- You can participate in therapy anywhere that is safe and convenient for you
- You have a greater choice of practitioners than if you were restricted by location
- Having fewer visual distractions often encourages focus and concentration
- You may find that you are more comfortable with this method and that it is easier to talk
- You can choose a practitioner outside of your local or professional community
- The “disinhibition factor” can lead to effective, deep therapeutic progress
Research shows that telephone/online counselling is as effective as in-person therapy. However, it is not suitable for everyone and I will always conduct an assessment in order to ascertain whether this mode of therapy is the best option for you. Some of the limitations of include:
- There can occasionally be a slight delay which can cause us to interrupt or not hear each other fully. This can sometimes lead to misunderstandings, so if you feel I have not completely understood you, please let me know. I may ask you to repeat things if I have not heard you clearly
- Our telephone or internet connection may fail. I will discuss a plan to manage this should the situation arise
- We are not able to see the whole of each other, so some physical cues can be missed. I will usually ask more questions about how you feel in a session, physically and emotionally, to address this limitation.
- Some people feel more comfortable with distance therapy than working in person. This may sometimes cause clients to experience a “disinhibition factor” during telephone/online therapy, which can leave them feeling vulnerable if they are not supported appropriately. I will usually spend some time looking at your support network and self-care strategies in order to address this.
Telephone counselling sessions may be held on a landline or mobile phone connection at a number pre-agreed in writing with the client. Please be aware landline and mobile phone connections are not end-to-end encrypted and should be considered less confidential and secure than video conferencing.
Unless otherwise agreed, I will initiate the telephone session call at the scheduled appointment time. Should there be no answer I will retry the number a couple of times, leaving a voicemail message if no contact is made within 10 mins of the scheduled session time.
Online counselling via video conferencing is the nearest we can get to simulating a face to face session. In order to protect our privacy and confidentiality I use the “Zoom” video conferencing platform which provides end-to-end encryption, meaning that our calls cannot be intercepted or recorded. Usually, if your internet is good enough to stream “YouTube” or “Netflix”, it is good enough for video conferencing.
Before each appointment, you will receive an email from me containing the link for you to join the session on the scheduled day and scheduled time. This will take you to a virtual “Waiting Room” and I will then let you into the meeting where you should be able to see and hear me.
To ensure privacy I will email you with a new link prior to every session.
INTERNET SECURITY and RISKS TO CONFIDENTIALITY
Consider who has access to your computer or device and whether your screen is visible or sound is audible to others during sessions. Without the installation of good internet security software there is a risk of confidentiality being broken or data being intercepted by internet service providers or hackers. You are responsible for securing your computer hardware (and any other devices you may use for sessions or synchronise with), your internet access points, email and passwords.
At My Location
I will be in my practice office and will be the only person in the room. I may wear earphones to increase privacy and improve sound quality.
At Your Location
I encourage you to find a private, comfortable space for your session where you can ensure that you will not be disturbed for the duration of the session. It may be helpful to put a ‘Do Not Disturb’ note on the door, or if other people live with you, ask if they can go out for an hour, or consider having a radio on so that you are less likely to be overheard and can speak freely. You may also find it helpful to use earphones.
NB. It is important that your physical location is known during an online therapy session to fulfil professional obligations and in case of emergency. For example, if a client were to suddenly become seriously unwell during a session, I may need to contact local emergency services to ensure their safety. If you are not planning to be at home during your session, you will need to send me an email with your address for the session prior to our appointment.
After your Session
Unlike an in-person counselling session you will not experience leaving the building or travelling home after your session, giving you time to return to “normal life”. After an online or telephone counselling session give yourself time to process the session before hurrying back to your usual activities.
Online or telephone therapy is not suitable for working with all concerns. BACP guidelines indicate video sessions are unlikely to be suitable for clients with moderate to severe mental illness, those in acute distress or clients who are dealing with substance abuse issues.
In a situation where I feel you would receive more suitable treatment in person and/or I am unable to provide this method of delivery, I will be happy to support you in finding a local practitioner to visit.
Should you have any further questions regarding this mode of therapy or would like to arrange an initial session, please contact me to discuss further.