Online Therapy – how does it work?

Looking for online therapy sessions?

The internet has changed many aspects of our lives, and most of us use technology to complete tasks online, without the need to leave home. Although it would be hard to imagine talking therapy sessions without some form of one-to-one human interaction, modern counselling is not immune to these changes. So, if you are looking for therapy but don’t want to attend face-to-face sessions with a counsellor, online counselling may be the answer.

Counselling sessions available from £45.00. Please call 07824 385338 or Contact me to find out more and make an appointment.

What is online therapy?

The term can be used to describe several web-based interactions including email, instant messaging (IM) and web chat, but we are looking here at the most versatile form of online therapy, video conferencing. Because the name comes from it’s use as a business meeting tool, ‘conferencing’ can be a confusing term when applied to counselling. It might suggest you are signing up for group therapy, or you need expensive equipment and technical knowledge to make things work. Although, that’s not true anymore (most video conferencing platforms work from a laptop, tablet or smartphone), if you haven’t used video conferencing such as Zoom, Skype or Teams before, it might take a few minutes to adjust. My experience working with clients in a time of COVID, where we didn’t want to or couldn’t meet in person, suggests this adjustment period is short. Video call therapy offers something more than a phone call session, and allows people to get the support they need when there are few risk-free alternatives.

Louise Lalley Counselling online therapy
Image by 8212733 from Pixabay

Is Skype suitable for online therapy?

Although Skype became the market leader in video conferencing, some organisations recognise it’s not perfect for therapy. In the UK, the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO) assert that using Skype for counselling sessions should be avoided because of doubts over the platform’s handling of personal information, and the way it uses this to target users with adverts. Skype was designed to enable sharing, and it uses your contact lists to help with this. This is fine for social networking, but it raises doubts about the suitability of Skype when used in counselling. Even though conversations are encrypted, in their recent guidance notes for online therapists, ACTO points out these conversations are stored by Skype for thirty days after the session has ended. This raises another consideration – because individuals are not given control about over how their information is handled, Skype may not be fully compliant with European GDPR legislation.

What’s the alternative?

It’s because of these concerns that ACTO advises its registered therapists not to use the platform. This should become less of an issue during 2021 as it seems Skype is being discontinued, to be replaced by Teams. Just now however, ACTO recommends Zoom, which offers a free (for the client) and easy to use alternative. A simple link is generated for each session and no information is shared with third parties. Zoom is also compliant with the HIPAA standards for the correct handling of health information within the U.S. It’s also why I have decided to use Zoom as my default method when offering counselling online.

How does online counselling work?

If you are thinking about therapy, either online or via traditional face-to-face counselling, the first step is the same. Please get in touch by phone on 07824 385338 or by using the form on Contact Me page. I work in Walsall, Willenhall near Wolverhampton, and Sutton Coldfield, although location is less important for online appointments. We can discuss your requirements and expectations, and if you think online counselling will work for you, will arrange your first therapy session. I will send you an email showing the date and time for your session, and a simple link to click on and join. All you need is a computer with a microphone and a camera (most laptops have these), or a smartphone or other internet device, such as a tablet. It may seem a little strange to begin with, but after a few minutes in the session we will get used to talking and working together on the issues you want to bring to therapy.

Do you need counselling?

If you are unsure if counselling could help, please take a look at the Do I Need Counselling? page. It contains basic guidance on spotting some common signs that therapy might help you, how much work you will need to put in, and what the outcomes might be. It’s a simple guide, but if you contact me I will be happy to discuss whether counselling is right for you.