ONLINE AND PHONE COUNSELLING SESSIONS – GUIDANCE TO CLIENTS

 

Introduction

This information is provided as guidance for when counselling sessions take place remotely using the telephone or video calls.   It has been written to help you understand what to expect and provide some tips to make sure the process runs smoothly.   

 

Due to the COVID-19 situation many therapists have now moved over to a wholly remote based therapy provision.  However telephone and online counselling is something many therapists and their clients have worked with for several years prior to the current health crisis.  It might feel scary or uncertain to have some sessions online, but they can be as effective as meeting face to face (sometimes more so). Indeed, working online can sometimes remove barriers to counselling.  It allows an opportunity to offer therapy to those who could not otherwise access it.  This can include people who live far from a therapist, people who are agoraphobic, or people who find meeting people face-to-face so anxiety provoking that they can’t travel to a therapist.  The priority for me as your therapist is to create a safe and contained space to work with you.  If you do have any anxieties about working online or over the telephone please do let me know so that we can discuss them.

 

Platform

For online video calls I prefer to use Zoom as it is easy to use and is encrypted. However, there are other services available and you may prefer to use one that you are familiar with. I am very happy to discuss this with you. You may be worried about security especially when certain platforms receive negative press in the media. The reality is that nothing can be guaranteed to be 100% secure. That includes your phones, computers, tablets, landlines, voice mail, electronic mail, post, office spaces, cars, smart speakers etc. All we can do is enable as much security as we can, and I will configure my settings to maximize this.   Please do discuss with me any concerns you may have.

 

TIPS

Please make sure that:

  1. You have your computer or mobile set up with Zoom (or another agreed platform) before the session commences. This includes having your microphone and video turned on.

  2. Your computer or mobile is positioned at a sensible height so that I can clearly see your face and that the camera is at eye level. If two people will be participating e.g. in couple therapy, please make sure that I can see everyone clearly.

  3. It is very easy to hear background noises e.g. animals and washing machines and kettles etc. so please make sure you are in a quiet location.

  4. You will not be disturbed for the duration of the session and that the door to the room you are sitting in is closed. To ensure confidentiality telephone and online sessions take place on the understanding that both therapist and client(s) are communicating with no others present (or within sight or hearing) from a quiet and safe place that is free from outside distractions

  5. If you are using your computer, you have your mobile out of reach and with the sound muted so that it is not a distraction.

  6. You do not have your back to a window or light – this can make it very hard for me to see you clearly.

  7. That there is adequate lighting in the room you are in.

  8. You have a box of tissues nearby.

  9. You have a glass of water nearby.

  10. You have not been drinking alcohol or taking drugs before any sessions where they may still be in your body.

  11. Neither client nor therapist record the sessions UNLESS this has been mutually discussed and agreed, and a consent form has been signed with the therapist.

  12. You join the meeting at the agreed time.

 

Other considerations

  • If technical difficulties arise during a session such as a loss of connection on a video call I will call you by telephone so that we can see whether we can re-establish the online connection, continue the session over the phone or if necessary reschedule to another time to complete the meeting.   Please do make sure your telephone is turned on (if using a mobile) so that we can communicate if it is not possible to reconnect via the internet.

  • Sometimes people use headphones during online sessions. It has also been observed that if one person has headphones and the other doesn’t, then this can make the sound less effective. So probably, either both use them or neither use them, but using headphones can create a more intimate and powerful connection.

 

I can confirm that I have completed UKCP Covid-19 Online Working Guidance. ​

(The information provided here is adapted from the guidance provided by the EMDR UK Association in response to the recent COVID-19 situation).

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