The variety and versatility of Online Counselling


Hi, and welcome to this week’s blog post on the advantages of online counselling.

We are living in a day and age of high tech. It keeps changing and being “smarter” and more accessible and affordable to all of us.

I remember when the internet started. I was a teenager and it was exciting to meet people on the other side of the world, even keep up with music from over the Atlantic!

I never felt that those friendships I built online were very different from my face-to-face, local friendships.

Maybe that’s why I feel that online counselling makes sense, and is no different than face-to-face counselling in many aspects.

Of course, there are some things that I’ve needed to do to work online – further training, and thinking about some obvious differences, like less non-verbal cues to work with, but adjustments can be made and I’m pleased to say I’ve helped lots of clients through online counselling, and hope to continue to do so.


What do you think of when I say “online counselling”?

Maybe you think video calls.

That would be my first guess if I didn’t know about the other ways of working online!

There are many ways to work online with your therapist.

The way that works for you, and possibly the online therapist you choose to work with, will depend on your personality, lifestyle, available free time to attend sessions, and other aspects of your life that might get in the way of accessing face-to-face or synchronous (“live”) sessions.

Let’s go through a few creative ways in which you can look after your mental health through online counselling…


A live video call means you schedule a time with your chosen therapist, and try to meet regularly (usually every week), at the same time and using the same secure platform.

I use Zoom and Instahelp for private clients, but there are other safe platforms that keep your conversations encrypted and completely confidential.

If you prefer to see your counsellor, almost in the same way you would if you went to their physical office, then this might be the best way to work on your current situation.


Live audio calls happen in a similar way as described above, except you’d only be hearing each other’s voices.

This can be done using the same platforms, but with video turned off, or using the telephone.

If it’s easier for you to speak without being seen, then this might be the best way for you to have therapy.

Sometimes, internet connections might fail, and turning video off might be the only solution so the session can continue. These are things to discuss with your therapist – they would probably bring this up – in case technology fails and you have to adjust to using audio or telephone, or rescheduling.

Completing further training in the differences between seeing and not seeing my clients has really helped me when working with audio calls.


In this type of counselling, you and your therapist are using the same chat room, and are messaging back and forth, at the same time.

This would be for an agreed period of time – 20min, 40min, and hour.

If you’re a millenial or really enjoy using text-based communications in your daily life, then text-based messaging might be the best option for you right now.

Usually, therapists that offer this type of service can offer the other ways of working alongside text-based counselling.

Working online is so versatile!


I’ve used this type of therapy before, and it’s really helped me.

I didn’t feel I was missing out on anything, in fact, because I’m a fast typist and love to write anyway, I could get a lot out in one go.

My therapist was very good at catching what I was writing and replying sensitively and in a timely way. I felt really held by her, even when I’d only ever seen a photo of her and her text responses.

The great way about asynchronous messaging is that you can do it at anytime from anywhere.

Of course, you will have to wait for your therapist to log on and read your message, but you’ll usually have a good idea of what times they work and when you are most likely to expect a reply.


This is similar to text-based counselling, except you are going to be using email for this.

I would use a password protected word document to exchange your messages with your therapist, so nobody can open it except you two.

The responses would happen in a similar way to asynchronous messaging, as you can send emails at any time from anywhere, and wait for your therapist to reply at agreed times.


As you can see, online counselling opens up lots of possibilities for people to access good therapy, in a way that works for them.

Distance is not an issue any longer, and neither are some of the other barriers that might stop us from getting in touch with a counsellor – shame, fear, time, “what will people think”, amongst other things.


If you’d like to catch up on past posts, click the links below:

Accessibility

No Commute, Free resources

Anonymity

Confidentiality and Risk

Guest post: Would chronic illness benefit from online counselling? – By Olivia Djoudadi


See you next week!


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