Why choose online counselling?
I first explored the idea of working as a counsellor online in 2006, when asked to set up an online service for students. I researched the idea very carefully, finding out as much as I could about the experiences of both online therapists and clients before taking things further. I then completed an online training, joining a growing network of other professionals also developing work in this area. We are committed to the provision of ethical, professional and secure online services and the implementation of effective practice guidelines and standards.
I established my original service and began offering online therapy, initially through a pilot scheme which then became a permanent provision within the student services. I discovered that not only could online therapy provide very rich and meaningful therapeutic experiences for a wide range of people, but it could also open doors to therapy for those who might otherwise be unable to engage with help of this kind.
Here are some of the reasons people give for choosing online counselling:
- I have to travel around a lot in the course of my work (sometimes abroad) and cannot commit to regular face-to-face appointments
- It is hard to coordinate my busy schedule with that of my counsellor
- Physical constraints prevent me from being able to get to my counsellor's consulting rooms
- I feel embarrassed about talking to someone in person about my difficulties; I am much less uncomfortable when meeting my counsellor online
- I prefer not to be 'seen' by my therapist
- The relationship online feels more 'equal' and I feel less concerned that I am being judged
- I feel more in control) of what I do or don't say
- There is more 'time to think' when my counselling can be done by email (or 'asynchronously')and when the emails can be composed carefully and revised before I send them
- Text-based counselling enables me to keep a complete record of all that happens in counselling
- I can 'try it out' online first, and perhaps decide to engage in face-to-face counselling at a later date
How does it work?
Modern technology means that we can communicate through text, either ‘live’ (using an Instant Messenger - IM - program) or by email, which some people prefer as it helps them to feel more contained and protected and offers them ‘time to think’. Alternatively we can set up a secure video and/or audio link, using a program that works like Skype, but is more secure. Whatever medium you choose for your online counselling, the sessions are always arranged in advance and by appointment, just as they would be if we were to meet face-to-face.
The boundaries that we set around our work together will help you to feel contained and I will ensure that matters of security and confidentiality are thoroughly addressed, according to Ethical Guidelines produced by the professional organisations of which I am a member.
If you would like to know more about engaging in online counselling, please contact me.
Find out more about online counselling
After a couple of years' experience of delivering counselling online, I undertook more formal research into the impact of this approach, inviting clients and other online counsellors to participate in an academic study exploring the nature of the online relationship. This research has subsequently been published in journal articles and described in book chapters (see my publications list).
I keep in close contact with professional colleagues who also work online and I regularly make presentations to organizations, groups and at conferences. I am able to offer consultation to other professionals wanting to know more delivering online therapy.