The arrival of Coronavirus (COVID-19) has changed, for the moment, how I work as a counsellor. The introduction of home working, social distancing and self-isolation has for the time being made face to face working unavailable. Telephone and secure video counselling are currently the most appropriate approach. It will be possible to move to face to face working in either Bromley or London (SE8) when the situation improves.
Counselling requires a space where you can speak freely and without fear of interruption. However, I understand that with so many of us spending much of our time at home privacy for counselling sessions may be difficult. Perhaps you do not have a spare room you can easily use, or the household is very busy. In these circumstances you might need to think creatively. Perhaps you can make use of your car and find a quiet spot park or have a cosy shed in the garden that might be of use. If planning telephone counselling maybe you could go for a walk and engage in therapy at the same time.
Traditionally therapy meant sitting in the same room as your counsellor. Video conferencing (Skype/Zoom/Facetime etc) are now much more widely available on smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers making it possible to see your therapist at a distance.
• Save travel time and expenses.
• No need to cancel due to bad weather or cancelled trains.
• Fully accessible if travel, mobility or pain are a factor for you.
• Easier to fit into busy schedules.
• You choose the location of your therapy, often your own home, where you may feel more comfortable than my office.
Current research indicates that counselling and psychotherapy using online video sessions can be very effective. Evidence by the American Psychiatric Association in 2007 reports that online video counselling and telephone therapy clients report the same levels of satisfaction as with face-to-face therapy. Online video and telephone counselling can be effective for depression, bereavement, insomnia, anxiety, family and relationship issues and other forms of emotional distress. Telephone or video counselling might be appropriate as a single session to talk about a particular problem or for longer term and regular therapy. I work with Skype or Zoom, both have end to end secure encryption and once setup are straight forward to use.
Most of us are used to using technology to communicate. Many clients find the experience different from face to face, but still helpful. It might be something you want to try for a few sessions, perhaps trying both telephone and video sessions to see which suits you best. You are not committed to continuing if it does not feel useful, you can pause your therapy at any time and resume when face to face is available.
I aim to make the counselling experience as close to the face to face sessions I provide in my office. There are some differences of course, it can be harder to pick up on body language, the technology itself can sometimes be glitchy but a little patience and humor will help us get over these hurdles. If either of us drop internet we can finish the session on the phone or reschedule if necessary. We will both agree a clear plan on what we will do in the case of problems. I will also check in with during sessions so we can work out what works for you and what does not, so together over time we can make the experience as helpful as possible.
• Find somewhere comfortable where you have enough privacy for your counselling session.
• Consider headphones, they can be helpful for sound quality and privacy.
• If possible, turn off notifications on your device so you are not distracted by them.
If using your mobile phone for the session make sure it is fully charged, has good reception and you have privacy for a call.
I use Zoom and Skype for video meetings. You will need to have a device with a camera and mic, most modern laptops, tablets and smartphones have these. Both Zoom and Skype will need to be downloaded and installed ready for appointments.
I offer a FREE 15 minute introductory phone or video chat to see if this type of therapy works for you. Contact me here.