What is online counselling?
Online counselling is a way to still communicate with a counsellor but rather than face to face, you will speak to them via video conferencing or the telephone. I use Zoom for online counselling sessions. Zoom is a secure online video conferencing platform that’s very easy to join and use. You don’t even need to join it - simply click on a link I send, and participate in the video session.
Online counselling has been used for quite a number of years and there is over 30 years of research that shows that it can be just as effective as face to face counselling.
Most counsellors and therapists in the world are now doing this. I myself have been counselling online for clients for several years. We don’t know how long this new world of COVID-19 will last, so if you are new to online counselling, this information will help you connect so that you can continue to get the support you need.
Many people in isolation are now experiencing increased anxiety and stress. You may feel nervous, lonely and helpless. As long as you have access to the internet or a telephone, you can access online counselling, where I will listen to your concerns and provide strategies to help you get through this.
To participate in online counselling, you will need the following:
To download Zoom - CLICK HERE
Your laptop, computer, smartphone, landline phone or tablet.
Fast and uninterrupted Internet.
The Zoom app or a desktop so the link will open when I send it to you.
Confidentiality still applies for online counselling services. For that reason, recording of the counselling sessions are not permitted by either party as the recordings can quickly and easily compromise your privacy.
I will send you a meeting invite with a link and a password for added security. Also, like a face to face appointment, I will put you in a “waiting room” until I am ready. This ensures that you do not come into another person’s session and no one else can enter your session. Your security is my priority.
Benefits of online counselling
There are many advantages to online counselling. During the COVID-19 crisis, you may feel that you have to put your counselling sessions on hold. Fortunately, in today’s world, you can still stay safe while taking advantage of online counselling.
Some of the benefits are:
Reduced stigma: many people still experience the stigma of going to see a counsellor. Online counselling can help to reduce the stigma while still providing the help you require.
Convenience: you don’t have to spend time travelling to and from your counselling appointments and trying to find a parking spot. You don’t need to take time off work or find childcare. You also can find a counsellor anywhere in Queensland or Australia that you feel comfortable with, rather than someone local.
Online disinhibition effect: this term just means that people often feel more comfortable in their own home and will, therefore, open up more and be more vulnerable. This will allow us to get to the core of the issue and therefore can work through the issues quicker.
Challenges of online counselling
While there are benefits of online counselling, like anything, there can also be disadvantages. Some of these can be:
Technology: If you don’t like technology, are not comfortable with it, or don’t have access to it, online video counselling is difficult. Don’t worry, we can use the telephone instead, however seeing body language always helps with building rapport, so that is the preference.
Lack of face to face connection: if you are the type of person that prefers to speak to people face to face, you may not like online counselling. Sometimes the delay can be off-putting, but at least you can still see the person.
Lack of non-verbal cues: Our communication is based on verbal and non-verbal cues. Some of the non-verbal cues can be missing during video counselling. To help minimise this, I will spend an additional 10-15 minutes prior to your session commencing to set up the call to ensure I can still get the non-verbal cues. Video and phone sessions can be more easily misconstrued so please give the benefit of the doubt and ask for an explanation if you’re ever unsure of something in our session.
How to get the best out of your online counselling session
- I use the video conferencing platform Zoom for our virtual sessions and I will explain how to use it by providing an additional 10-15 minutes prior to the session to ensure you are comfortable using the technology. I will send you a meeting invite with a link and a password for added security.
- You need to use a laptop with an inbuilt camera, desktop with a webcam or smartphone during the session. Ensure you close down all notifications, windows, browsers etc and if possible, ensure no one in the household is streaming as this can cause technical issues.
- It is preferable that the laptop is on a table, at eye level and you are sitting in front of it.
- Ensure your laptop, tablet or phone is charged.
- It is important to be in a quiet, private, safe and confidential space during the sessions. If possible, it should be difficult for people outside your room to hear you.
- Remember to shut the door to the room.
- Have everything you need prior to the session, eg water, tea, tissues.
- Ensure that there is good natural light in front of you or a light is on in the room.
- Please ensure that you will be free of distractions (including your mobile phone or other devices) during the session. Family members, including children, should not be in the room.
- It is important to use a secure internet connection rather than public / free wi-fi.
- It is important that you treat an online session like a physical counselling session, so please ensure you are dressed appropriately and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Also, please ensure you are not performing any tasks eg washing up.
- In the event of technical problems, we need to ensure that there is a back-up plan (eg a phone number that I can call you on) to continue the session or to reschedule it.
- When the session has finished, try to give yourself some additional time alone to gather your thoughts eg go outside if possible, stretch and have a cup of tea or coffee. If you were attending a face to face session, you would generally have this alone time while you travelled back home.