"For me, being a therapist is
a calling. I am passionate about what I do."
Recent moves over to video conferencing has really opened up therapy to more people . That’s because it allows one of the most important aspects of real therapy to take place and that is the regular as clockwork weekly appointment. It is the regularity of the sessions that make all the difference.
For people who are unable, for whatever reason, to see a counsellor in person, online and telephone counselling is a vital service. The growing body of research into online counselling has established the treatment outcomes of online therapy are at least equal to traditional settings.
Online therapy has additional benefits as clients often feel at greater ease and less intimidated than they would in traditional settings. This makes clients more likely to open up and be honest, thus allowing the counsellor to provide better service.
Of course for some face-to-face work is preferable but software such as Skype, Zoom or FaceTime allows many more people to engage in therapy.
For some people online therapy opens up a whole new world:
Anyone who is disabled and unable to leave the house
Agoraphobics who need therapy in order to leave the house
People who travel on business.
People who have family commitments that mean leaving the house is not always practical.
Anyone who lives miles away from the nearest therapist
People who are working on shame based issues because telephone or video sessions give them more control over each session allowing them to feel more secure.
Anyone living abroad who wants an English speaking therapist.
Changes in the way we live and work make that important regular commitment to therapy very difficult. Online therapy is the solution.
Is video therapy for me?
If you have not already got Skype, Zoom or FaceTime, why not spend a few minutes downloading it for free.
Please be aware of the following before booking online with me.
Online Therapists cannot respond to crisis situations. If you are feeling suicidal please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call your GP.
Would I prefer email therapy?
Some people are uncomfortable with being physically seen by their therapist so for these people email counselling works really well. You can relax and be yourself without the intensity of eye contact. With writing you have space to choose and control over when you write – as long as it arrives within the agreed time-frame.
Email counselling works well for people who like space and time to think about their words. It can feel less intense, with less pressure in the moment to think and speak of what brings you to therapy.
You may be someone who processes your thoughts and words at a slower pace. You may be someone who enjoys writing more than speaking. You may like the freedom of choosing when to take the time to write your session. You may struggle with expressing emotion in the presence of another.
Can we still develop a therapeutic relationship?
You explore yourself just as you would in the counselling room, and will have the same level of support in doing this. The working relationship develops over time just as it does face-to-face or via video counselling. My responses will be in a gentle, encouraging manner.
So, how does this work?
We still meet weekly just in a different way. You send your words on our agreed day of the week. You receive my therapeutic response on the day we have arranged (usually two days later). This gives you time to read and reflect before writing the following week’s words.
When we choose to work together using email exchange, I ask that the first email be approximately 1000 words long. You can spend as long as you wish putting your words down. You can write and send, or you can write, walk away, come back, add, consider and then send. We will have agreed in advance a day to send and a day for my response. I will spend a therapeutic hour (50 minutes) writing my response. That’s the reason for the word limit. Of course, you may write more, you may start and not want to stop the flow. That’s ok, keep it all for yourself and choose which of your paragraphs feel most important to share and send. You may find that 500 words is enough and that’s OK too.
For some people, email counselling is a stepping stone preparing the way for face-to-face or video sessions. Others complete their therapeutic journey via the written word appreciating the progress made without ever seeing the face of, or hearing the sound of, their counsellor’s voice.
Most people find that once they sit and start to write, the words flow. The first email might describe your situation or problem and can be cathartic in itself as an outpouring of ‘this is me, this is my life’. It may include ‘this is how I think, and this is how I feel’. There’s no need for correct grammar or fancy words.
Some people are more aware of their thoughts, feelings and behaviours than others. It is my job to be alongside you, the individual that you are, to take in the narrative, to read what you say, also to notice the tone of the email, the feelings behind the words. I won’t assume. I will always be tentative just as I am in speech, It becomes a conversation. We become a team looking at you, your world, your choices.
How do we keep track?
I recommend that we use different colours each week so that we can easily follow the thread of our most recent words. I will label my responses 1, 2, 3 etc.
You can use different fonts and sizes to make a point, you can include drawings, photos, diagrams, anything at all.
Equally you can simply write plainly, there is no right or wrong. We work hard together to make sense of you and your experiences. We can use emojis, we can SHOUT.
You may choose to keep our words forever, as a reminder of what helps you, of your tendencies and how you found your way back to a more balanced, healthy state.
How do we maintain boundaries?
As with any form of counselling, setting boundaries is important. Therapist and client agree a day for emails to be sent and received. We both need to know the ‘rules’, for example you send to me by 6pm on a Monday and I reply during the pre-agreed session time two days later. I will use a password protected document for my responses to you, ensuring that only you can read it. I recommend that you choose a quiet, private space, so that you give yourself this time as a priority. I ask that you ‘turn up’ for the session just as you would to a physical appointment.
It is not for everyone
It’s not for everyone. Some people prefer talking. Some people are simply not interested in or familiar with the concept of writing. Some prefer a phone or video call, others who are not usually confident writers, may be happy as long as we both use the tools that help them read and write well enough to be understood.
Why I like offering email therapy
I am a person who enjoys the creativity email therapy offers. My belief is that the relationship we develop together is key to change and growth. You need to feel safe and comfortable. You need to trust me. As I read your words, I feel in tune with you, connected in an empathic way, that’s me really getting a sense of how you feel. For the therapeutic hour that I am ‘with you’, I am completely in your world, working hard to notice what you may not see in order to help you understand yourself well. A weekly email exchange is a powerful way to connect, to be understood, to find the answers that work for you, to thrive.
What does it cost?
It costs the same as any other individual counselling session as I dedicate the same amount of time and the same level of professionalism
Security and confidentiality
As with anything online, you need to protect yourself and your computer.
You need to be sure you have all the usual precautions in place such as an antivirus program, using a personal firewall, and updating security programs regularly. There are many free websites that will help you with this, such as www.getsafeonline.org
Once your computer and internet settings are secure, you will also need to consider how private you will be when you have your video counselling session. To help you speak more freely, you will need to be confident that nobody can overhear you or interrupt the session. You need to consider such things as when you can be alone in front of your computer for at least an hour a week. You may want to plan your sessions for a time when other commitments are not demanding your time elsewhere..