I work with clients online by email and live instant messaging (IM) via secure sites. You may prefer instant messaging, as it is more like a real-time conversation (in text form). Email, on the other hand, allows you to be more reflective about the exchanges we have, and you’ll have more flexibility around time to compose what you want to say. You might decide to start with one and then move on to the other!
I also have some appointments for counselling by web-cam or telephone. It’s not quite the same as being in a room together, but like ‘traditional’ counselling we are speaking to each other rather than writing.
The practical stuff
Once you get in touch, I’ll send you a brief form, to find out why you’ve decided to seek counselling, and to ask you about your experience of communicating online, which will help us both in deciding whether online counselling would work for you, or whether face to face counselling would be more appropriate – in which case I can assist you to find a suitable counsellor. If we decide to proceed, we will agree which way of working is the best fit, and when appointments will be. We’ll then complete an agreement form before our first session or email, which asks for some contact information and confirms administrative and practical details of the relationship. You can of course take as much time as you need to read over the forms and ask any questions.
With email therapy, we can discuss how often you might want to email me (usually weekly); I will respond to emails within 48 hours (72 hours over a weekend). I prefer clients to open a secure email account and can give you more information about this.
With instant messaging, sessions last for 1 hour. IM sessions take place using VSee which is a secure video call and messaging system, like Skype, which you can use from a PC, tablet or smartphone, and I can give you more information about this.
Web-cam and telephone sessions last for 50 minutes, again, using video call software.
You and me
It is important that you think you will be able to feel comfortable in a relationship with me – and me with you – for us to be able to work together. It might be that our personalities don’t fit, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
The relationship between client and therapist is different each time, but we will work together to figure out what is going on for you and to help you to become more aware of where habits of thinking, feeling or behaviour may not be working for you as well now as they have in the past. It is quite likely that, once you trust me, you may well repeat your default patterns of relating to people, in the way you relate to me. Talking about this can help us both to better understand and explore your difficulties. I don’t normally give advice, but I may offer tips or ways for you to think about how you react in certain situations.
You can end the counselling relationship at any time, but it is usually helpful if we discuss the ending first – especially if we have been working together for some time.