Distance and self-isolating restrictions can mean clients and therapists are unable to meet as usual.
Online & Distance Therapy, via video services or the telephone, can provide the benefits of 1-1 sessions, while allowing you to stay within the comfort of your own home.
This page will give you more information about Distance Therapy (DT), to help you understand what it is, what I offer, and what it might involve. It is my hope that it will help as you consider DT and if it might be a good fit for you.
What is Distance Therapy (DT)?
DT follows the same principles as face-to-face therapy and professional codes of ethics apply equally. Instead of meeting me in a consulting room, we hold sessions from our own separate locations using a webcam and/or audio link, or by talking on the telephone.
Research has shown that therapy across distance can be as effective as meeting face-to-face, and therapists have been using various forms of online therapy for years. Many individuals have found it valuable, with some finding it preferable to meeting face-to-face. However, it does not suit everyone, nor is it necessarily the ‘first choice’ for working with some challenges. This is something we can discuss if you would like to consider DT.
Why would I consider Distance Therapy?
In the current times, with social distancing restrictions and uncertainty, many people need additional support. Some have been hoping to find a therapist for a while and have experienced escalating needs in this climate. We may encounter further disruption to such patterns of working over coming months and DT via online video services or the telephone can be a useful alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy.
- It is possible to engage in therapy, despite being unable to meet in person
- Communicating from one’s own secure space can be reassuring
- Some individuals find it easier to talk about some things when not in the same room as their therapist
- It is sometimes easier to fit the time into one’s schedule without the pressures of travel
- Travel costs are saved
- Some issues are not best suited to DT
- Communication cues, including facial expressions, voice tone, body language may be less obvious in DT, and some clients miss the presence of another person
- Some individuals feel less inhibited using DT. It is important to be aware of this and to give appropriate attention to it in order to safely work with emotional responses both during and after sessions
- Technology and connectivity problems can affect online links. It is important to plan alternative forms of contact and to agree a course of action in case this occurs
- Privacy may be harder to manage. It is important to plan how to achieve this in order to engage in sessions without interruption or concern about being overheard
- Some individuals find it difficult to see themselves on the screen, although this may be managed by turning off the video transmission on your computer
What is available?
I offer clients the opportunity to meet me for face-to-face therapy sessions when that is practicable, and via Zoomᵀᴹ video conferencing software. Zoom is an established and secure platform chosen by many online therapists. You can find out more about Zoom at www.zoom.us.
When broadband connections are ‘glitchy’ it is sometimes possible to keep the online image, but to mute the sound whilst using a telephone connection for sound. When broadband is unavailable, I am happy to talk via telephone.
How does it work?
Times and dates of sessions are agreed in advance, usually by email and payment is made one week in advance by bank transfer to secure the space. Ongoing therapy is established by agreeing a regular day and time, usually weekly, but occasionally fortnightly.
An initial, one-off session is helpful to discuss why you are seeking therapy, to gain clarity about the issues you want to address, the hopes you have for the work, and to find out if working together seems like a ‘good fit’. This session is payable at my regular rate, and whether or not we agree to work together, it is my aim that it would enable you to gain perspective, and to help you understand how best to move forwards.
If we decide to work together, I will send you self-referral papers and a ‘Therapy Agreement’ to ensure we have a shared understanding about how we will work together, what you can expect from me, and what commitment I would like you to make to yourself and to the process.
Unfortunately, it is impossible to guarantee 100% security with online therapy. However, I will take every precaution to support this by:
- Sending you an invitation to our session each time we meet
- Sending you a meeting password
- Using the waiting room facility to ensure that I admit only you, by name, for your session
- Securing (the online term is ‘locking’) the meeting room once you have joined to ensure that that no-one else can enter the session once we have started; this will not prevent you from leaving if you wish.
There are several things I advise clients to do to increase security:
- Always use a password to access your computer; it is best to change this frequently
- Keep your computer security software (virus protection, firewall) up to date
- Regularly check for updates for your video and audio communication software
- Ensure you have a comfortable, private space, which may include ensuring others in your
location know not to disturb nor to interrupt you
- Close other open browsers and programs on your computer as these can affect the connection, either slowing it down or causing the screen to freeze
- Computers automatically keep a history of web pages visited, and may save graphics, cookies, and other files. If it is important that others cannot discover which websites you have visited by looking through this history or cache file, you may choose to clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser’s settings.
In order for us to connect with one-another, I will need to store some of your data, including your name and contact number. If we agree to work together, I will keep written records of our contact in order to a) help me recall your circumstances, b) to comply with my professional body guidelines, and c) for your benefit, by helping the therapist clarify the progress and direction of my counselling. Any information shared will only be stored for as long as necessary, either until I have satisfied your enquiry, or at the end of a specified period indicated in the agreement we make at the start of therapy.
I am committed to safe storage of records and will ensure information shared is stored separately from any identifying data. My phone and computer are password protected. I am registered und the Data Protection Act (1988), (registration reference: ZA237980) and with the ICO. I am happy to answer any questions about this at the outset, and further information is available in the therapy agreement.
You can read my Privacy Statement on this website.
How would I join a Zoom session?
To use Zoom on your computer, you will need to have a webcam and a mic, which are widely available on iPads, tablets, and mobile phones.
You do not need to create a Zoom account. I will create a link for each session and send it to you in a brief email. As long as the message has come from my email account at the expected time, this link will be safe. In advance of our first session, I will send this invitation 15 minutes early, to give you time to download the app from Zoom. This is straightforward, (even for the ‘non-techy’ like me) and Zoom will guide you through this process with simple on-screen instructions.
When Zoom is installed, return to my email, and click on the meeting link. This will open a new browser window and you will be asked to ‘wait to be admitted’ to our personal and secure meeting room. I will respond and start our session at the agreed time.
You may be prompted to ‘call using internet audio’ for us to hear one-another.
Tap the screen to show the meeting controls and ensure that you turn on your camera and unmute the microphone.
For any subsequent sessions, I send email invitations 10 minutes before the start of our time.
If you would like more information please feel free to ask by using the details given on my Contact page, or to look through this website where there is more information about me, my experience, specialisms, and the theories and models that inform the way I work.