NB: I am only able to work with UK based clients.
So there are many reasons why you may want to look at online counselling.
I am pleased to say, that I believe this can be just as helpful as us meeting face to face; if it feels right for you.
I can help you to look at the online options available and select the right choice/s for you.
Online counselling can help to shine the light, to help you find the direction, or the road you want to take next.........
Online counselling means we are using technology and different platforms, to communicate 'at a distance'.
During the pandemic we have all had to become used to living, working and socialising online; so as a society, we are all now generally more IT savvy, but i feel it is important to explain this method of counselling as I prefer not to make assumptions about prior knowledge/experiences; hence the use of 'generally'.
Online counselling can be provided in 'real time', similar to a face to face appointment. It can also be carried out at different times to each other, when using email as the medium for the communication.
Which medium we decide to use will depend on the issue you want to explore, the time you have, the resources you have in relation to technology and your preferred communication style.
I offer the following online mediums for online clients:
This can be useful, when you want to take your time composing your account of the problems or challenges you are facing.
It may be useful, if actually finding a dedicated hour for a counselling session is problematic. With this approach you can create your email in stages if needed.
It may also suit you if you like to reflect yourself and then refine issues, before you want to look at them with your counsellor. You can start composing the email and then leave it, review it and then complete the email over a period of time.
It is important to be comfortable with writing/typing and to be happy to wait for responses from your counsellor, as your reply would be provided at a set time like a weekly appointment slot; so it isn't instant.
This is where we use the webcam platform Zoom, but set the option to not have the video on.
This may be useful, if you want the contact in real time, but prefer not to be seen.
In this way it is similar to having phone counselling.
Some people feel quite self conscious about using webcam, because they don't like seeing themselves on screen; so may opt for voice only so they feel comfortable in the session.
This is where we meet for online counselling using Zoom and we can see and hear each other.
This is the most similar to face to face counselling, out of the online mediums.
In this we have all of the benefits of non-verbal communication and if you rely on this when communicating, this may be the option you prefer.
The webcam based options do rely on both of us having a good internet connection and having the zoom software downloaded.
If you are currently in crisis and feeling at risk for your safety and/or are feeling actively suicidal; then please seek urgent support from your GP, NHS 111, take yourself to your local A&E if possible.
You can also call the Samaritans free on 116123 for support 24hrs a day, 375 days a year.
You can also email the Samaritans on firstname.lastname@example.org
Is webcam done on Skype?
Webcam is done using Zoom or WhatsApp platforms, rather than skype, as these offer encryption, to provide the most secure service.
Can I do sessions using my smartphone?
Yes you can as long as you download the zoom App to support the zoom meetings.
I really hate seeing myself on video, can we still meet for counselling using zoom?
Yes we can as there is the option to turn off video and just use the voice function.
What if I find it hard to talk about my problem?
We can look at alternatives like using instant messaging, if you really find talking in zoom difficult. Zoom does have a chat function; so if we were in a webcam session and there is something that is more difficult to say, then you could use the chat function to share this with me. We could also consider using secure email for this too.
Can I use my normal email for online counselling?
I ask all my clients wanting to use email counselling to sign up for a secure email account with protonmail, as this service uses encryption. Please also see the additional information about privacy. If you decide to use your standard email, this is at your own risk.
Privacy and confidentiality:
It is important when considering having counselling, using an online medium, that we give attention to confidentiality and privacy. This is important for us both.
The email service I use when opting for online counselling email exchanges is ProtonMail because this is a free encrypted email service, and the information being shared is likely to be of a personal, private and potentially sensitive nature. This carried out on my business laptop which requires 2-factor authentication to enable access.
For Text Based Counselling I use Signal as this is a secure service, using my business laptop and/or work phone
When working using Webcam based platforms for online counselling, we use Zoom, again accessed form my business laptop or phone (if Wi-Fi is offline then I can access 4G on my work phone).
Zoom is a secure platform offering end to end encryption. Once the assessment process is completed you will then be provided with your unique zoom link which we will use each time we meet and I use the waiting room and meeting lock as standard, to add additional security around privacy.
You can access more information about this platform by looking at the following: https://zoom.us/privacy
In terms of ensuring confidentiality and privacy during real time online counselling sessions you will need to be able to access a private area, where you feel safe and able to talk freely.
All other images on this website page are from Unsplash. Artists in order of appearance are: John Towner, Marc Oliver, Andrew Neal, I-am-Nik and Jens Lelie.