Here is some information about online counselling to help you decide if this is the right approach for you.
Online counselling aims to enable you to explore any problems or difficult feelings you are experiencing, with the hope that over time you can make changes that will help you to cope and feel better. I aim to be empathic while being guided by you. I believe that our past can affect our present and sometimes we are not consciously aware of what is influencing us. It is important that we can form a partnership and that you feel comfortable and able to trust me, so that you can talk about the things that matter to you.
What is online counselling?
There are many different forms of online counselling. I offer two ways of working; email and instant messaging. With email work you can send me an email and we will agree a time when I will respond. Usually we will have one email exchange each week. Email gives us both time to think about what we want to say and there is no pressure to type or think quickly. This can be helpful if you like to reflect on things for a while. Instant messaging happens in real time. We would agree a ‘session time’, which would be yours each week, which is more like face to face counselling and then we would ‘talk’ using text for 1 hour. This might suit you if you find it easier to have an immediate response.
There are other ways of working online. If you feel you would prefer to chat in an online forum, or use video skype, there are other online counsellors who can provide this. I have found that email and instant messaging are the most popular ways and use them because they help to provide a safe and contained way to explore problems and difficult feelings.
What about extra contact?
Normally we would stay within our agreed contact times. Sometimes you might need to contact me outside this time either for a practical reason (e.g. to change or cancel an appointment) or because something very difficult has happened. If you are upset and want to contact me I will respond, but cannot promise to do so immediately, so there might be times when you would need to contact other support like your GP or Samaritans.
How does online counselling work?
Before we start working together I will ask you to fill in a questionnaire. After you have completed this we will have a first meeting. In this I may ask more questions than usual so that I can understand more about you and the difficulty you are facing. It is important that you tell me as much about yourself as you can, so that we can make sure that online counselling will be suitable for you. If I feel you would be better off seeing someone face to face, I will tell you and explain why I think this. Usually this will be about making sure you are kept safe and helped by whatever counselling you receive.
When we start working together, I will give you a contract which explains important issues like confidentiality and in what circumstances I would tell someone else about things we have discussed. I will also ask you for your GP’s contact details. You can look at my contract on this website.
In online counselling you can talk about any issue that is worrying you or causing you pain. It may be something that has happened recently, or a problem that has been going on for a long time. I will read carefully what you have written and do my best to respond in a helpful way. Sometimes I will ask questions to learn more or clarify that I have understood you. I will summarise what you tell me and check that I am making sense to you. In online work we can’t see or hear each other so sometimes we may misunderstand and you might feel upset or unhappy with my response. It is always OK and important to let me know if I say something that does not feel right, or upsets or angers you. If we can explore these difficulties, then the work is more likely to be helpful. I won’t judge you or be angry with you for telling me I have got things wrong.
In my contract I explain the limits of confidentiality and the circumstances when I might have to break confidentiality. When working online I make every effort to make sure that our exchanges are secure, but internet providers do not guarantee complete security and there have been breaches. It is important that you consider this before deciding to use online counselling. In online counselling, a written record exists. I only keep this while we are working together and then delete it, keeping only brief handwritten notes. These notes can be requested by the police and courts, but I will only release them if they are subpoenaed. If you choose to keep your record of our sessions, then it is important that you think about how you will preserve your privacy. I ask that you will not make our sessions public, e.g.by posting them on an online forum. If you feel it would be helpful for you to share them with a close friend or family member, I would ask that we discuss it first.
My full fee for counselling is £40 per session and I will ask you to pay the money into my account using Paypal. If you have a low income and would struggle to pay my full fee, we can discuss this.
Any other questions
I have tried to cover topics that I think it is most important for you to know about before you start online counselling. If you have other questions, please feel able to contact me.