It’s week two of the coronavirus lockdown and I thought it would be useful to share my experience and thoughts of online and telephone counselling sessions.
Before the pandemic I mostly had face to face clients, but I did have some telephone and online clients. I found that those who opted for telephone or online did so for convenience as there was a difficulty in meeting face to face.
Now that I am currently unable to offer face to face sessions, I have been very lucky to continue sessions with my clients either over the telephone or online using a platform called zoom.
So here is what to expect when having counselling sessions over the telephone or online:
Before the first session
Once we have made contact and talked about your reasons for counselling, I will discuss with you how telephone and online counselling takes place. If it is by telephone, I will call you and if it is online, I will email you a link with instructions of what to do.
You might feel anxious about using technology or nervous about using the telephone, however I will always give you time in the first session for any support with the technical side of things.
Once we have sorted out any technical issues or anxieties, we will carry out a counselling session in the same way as if it were face to face. So, this is usually getting to know you and talking through your reasons for coming to counselling.
Silence on the telephone
There are times you will experience silence on the telephone and I will always assure you that I am there and that the silences are usually because I am listening to you. My listening skills have to be turned up on full over the phone as I don’t have that face to face communication.
When the screen freezes
So, technology is not perfect and sometimes when I am having an online session with my client, the internet might drop or the screen might freeze. I don’t mind when this happens and if this becomes too much of a problem in the session, I usually suggest we continue the session over the phone.
I will always outline the boundaries of counselling whether it is face to face, online or telephone counselling. I work within an ethical framework which means I offer a safe, non-judgemental and respectful space.
Normally, when I see clients face to face, I will ensure the space is safe and private as well as comfortable where I provide water and tissues for example. I will still adhere to keeping the sessions safe and private over the telephone and online; however, I would also expect you to be in a safe and private space away from any distractions or disturbance, otherwise you will not experience the full benefit of counselling. You might want to set the room up to make it comfortable for you, think about the chair you’ll be sitting in and make sure you have everything you need to make you comfortable, for example a drink and a box of tissues.
Benefits of telephone and online sessions
There are a lot of benefits of offering counselling in this way, mainly it being convenient for you as you won’t need to travel, to find the place or worry about parking.
It can be beneficial if you are someone who feels anxious about face to face meetings or social situations as well as physical barriers that might be stopping you from accessing face to face counselling such as a disability or if you are a carer.
If you are thinking about accessing counselling and not sure about how it would work over the telephone or online, feel free to contact me and I would be more than happy to have a chat to you about it over the phone.