There are advantages to conducting psychotherapy, sports psychotherapy or clinical supervision online over traditional face-to-face work, particularly if accessing the right person is difficult due to location or restricted choice. In addition, online support works well for people whose lifestyles or commitments make it difficult to attend a set time each week.
In online work, we can agree mutually convenient times on a week-to-week basis and you can meet with me from the comfort of your own home or another location with appropriate privacy.
There are a number of ways in which we can work online:
• Video call – In this form, we can see and hear each other. Sessions last 50 minutes and this format is similar to face-to-face psychotherapy, coaching or supervision. Your computer will need to have a microphone and webcam for this to work. I use Vsee, a fully encrypted online platform that work in a similar way to Skype. I will send you an invitation to sign up when we have agreed to commence working together.
• Voice call – This is similar to a phone call, but takes place over the internet. We can hear each other, but not see each other. As above, this takes place using Vsee.
• Instant messaging – This involves a text-based conversation, which is similar to using messenger or WhatsApp. This takes place using the Vsee platform.
• Email – You can send an email outlining the issues you want to work on. This gives you the opportunity to take some time to reflect on what you want to say in advance. I will send an email response within an agreed time-frame. The use of email means you can keep the correspondence and refer back to it, taking time to digest and reflect on the exchange. We send password protected documents to ensure security.
Sessions of any type last 50 minutes with the exception of email work, in which there is a delay between the sending of an email and the response. However, as a guide, I suggest spending approximately 50 minutes working on the email so it is reflective of a similar time commitment from both participants, albeit this occurs at different times.
At times, particularly in text-based online work, misunderstandings can occur. This happens more often than in face-to-face sessions due to not being able to see facial expressions or hear tone of voice. In such a scenario, it is important to ask for clarification. I would invite you to be clear and honest about any feelings you have about my comments and suggestions, even if those feelings are negative!
When is working online not suitable?
Some issues, particularly if you are seeking therapeutic support, are much more suited to face-to-face therapeutic input rather than working online. For example, it is not suitable to work online when you are in a crisis or need immediate assistance, or if you do not have access to the internet in a private, secure environment. I will let you know if I don't think online work is suitable for you and where to seek the right kind of help.
If you feel that you need immediate help, I recommend that you visit www.samaritans.org or www.befrienders.org. You can also call Samaritans on 116 123 or you can email (which is email emergency support). You can also make contact with your GP or attend A&E.
If there is an emergency whilst you are engaged with online psychotherapy or if you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, I will discuss with you how to obtain appropriate support.
I do not work with under 18s or provide couples therapy.
I conduct online work (excluding email) via a secure platform called Vsee (see www.vsee.com). If we are working via email, I use password protected documents to ensure the highest data protection standards.
I work according to the ethical framework of good practice as specified by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and the United Kingdom Council of Psychotherapy (UKCP). This means if you have any concerns or complaints you can raise them with these professional bodies.
I keep what you tell me confidential and will not talk to anyone about what we talk about together, with the exception of my supervisor. All practitioners talk about their work with a supervisor, who makes sure the work is effective. When I talk to my supervisor, your identity is not disclosed and the focus of this input is to make sure I am providing a good service to you.
In some circumstances I may want to talk with you about the possibility of talking with someone else. This is in circumstances where I believe you are not able to take responsibility for your own decisions, or if I believe you are at risk of serious harm. There are situations where I must talk to someone and this is a legal and ethical obligation. This is if someone else seems at risk of serious harm, in an emergency situation or if ordered to do so by a court of law.
You must also keep our interactions confidential. You can take care of confidentiality issues by:
Ensuring that you are in a private environment where no-one can overhear you or see your computer
Making sure no-one is coming and going into the room
Not leaving computer/emails unsupervised
Password protecting if keeping drafts of emails
Protecting login details
It is also in our contract that you do not publish in any form on social media or elsewhere the exchanges we have had.
Which form of online work is best for me?
There are a number of things to consider when choosing which is the most effective form of online communication for you. We can discuss this together, but as a starting point it is useful to ask yourself whether you are more comfortable talking or writing about your thoughts and feelings. If you prefer written communication it is also good to think about whether you would prefer to take your time to think about what you’d like to say, and if you are comfortable with waiting for a response - in which case email may be a good choice for you - or whether you would prefer an immediate, spontaneous dialogue as is the case with instant messaging.