Online therapy provides an opportunity to access therapy without having to travel, sometimes it may help you to ease into therapy, it may also provide you with a wider choice of therapy due to location or specific experience required.
Working online however can prevent the little clues picked up during an in-person meeting, for that reason I provide information to help keep you safe, and get the most from your therapy.
I am unable to provide counselling for anyone under the age of 18.
If you are family or a friend although I can provide basic information, I do request the person seeking therapy makes contact. Third party contact can make a clean start difficult, which may then prevent effective therapy.
Online therapy is not suitable for crisis or emergency intervention, here are some helplines which may be useful for immediate assistance;
SAFA Cumbria https://safa-selfharm.com/
Hopeline UK https://papyrus-uk.org/hopelineuk/
There are 4 forms of online therapy which I will introduce below;
Therapy is started with one email from yourself which may become an electronic letter describing your thoughts and concerns, this often leads into opening up expressing your thoughts and feelings. The therapist then reads, reflects and takes time to construct a therapeutic response. This response is likely to contain a few questions to check understanding, as well as prompt further thought.
A secure email account with end-to-end encryption such as Protonmail is recommended for this form of therapy. Encryption means the content of the email is automatically turned into a code which protects privacy before it is received and read by the recipient.
Instant Messenger (IM)
Similar to a text message instant messenger allows two people to type a conversation from different locations, this is held in real time just like talking on the phone. During a set-appointment of usually 50 minutes you are invited to ‘chat’ your concerns with the therapist, as with email therapy the therapist will respond empathically, checking understanding, clarifying, reflecting and challenging when appropriate. It may be useful to think of this as a text-message conversation, or an instant email.
Many IM systems exist however in order to protect privacy during counselling it is recommended to use a medical grade secure software such as VSee or Zoom, both of which can be set up without any cost.
Voice only or telephone
Voice only involves speaking either over the internet using software which can transmit sound using a microphone, or using an actual telephone call. During a set appointment of 50 minutes at a set appointment time you are able to talk about your concerns to the therapist. Hearing each other’s voices allows qualities of tone, volume, accent, inflection to add meaning to a conversation, also some people find it easier to talk than to type, whilst not being visible on a webcam. VSee and Zoom are two secure forms of software which provide a voice call option, both are free to set up your PC requires a microphone, or download the appropriate app to your mobile device.
Webcam (Zoom, VSee or Skype)
You may already have heard of Skype, often used to talk with family and friends or hold business meetings. Therapy by webcam involves being both seen and heard using a camera and microphone on your PC, or built in camera and app software on your mobile device. For therapy VSEE and Zoom use end-to-end encryption which provides a higher level of security than Skype. Familiarity with Skype make make still make this a preferred option, in which case the lower level of protection must be accepted. In order to use any of these programmes your PC requires a camera and microphone, most laptops have these built in or download the appropriate App to your mobile.