Online Therapy

Online Therapy

Online Therapy

About my online practice

I am a BACP registered, professionally trained and qualified counsellor. I have also undertaken additional training in working specifically with online and telephone counselling cliental. I strictly adhere to the Ethical Framework, and the Guidelines for Counselling and Psychotherapy as set forth by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). I am also a registered member with the Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy Online (ACTO), and strictly adhere to their Code of Ethics.

What is online counselling?

Online counselling, also known as e-counselling or e-therapy, describes a method of counselling that takes place over distance, rather than being in the same room, and via a variety of different methods, including internet-based video, text chat, or email. Some of these methods make use of the internet, whilst others do not.

How online counselling works

The term online counselling covers a range of options, including video counselling, chat-room (also referred to as instant messaging or text chat) and email counselling. It is advised that online counselling be delivered via securely encrypted mediums and platforms. When considering the importance of client safety whilst working online (or via the telephone) is also important to consider that client confidentiality can only be guaranteed on the counsellor’s side of the interaction, as we are unable to provide a fully protective two-way environment such as when we are in the same room. For this reason it is essential that you keep you online device updated with all the latest antivirus software and system updates, keep everything password protected (and keep your passwords safe and secret!), and ensure you are in a safe and secure environment whilst you are meeting with your counsellor. 

When was it developed?

The concept of providing therapy over a distance has been around for many years, with Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung exchanging letters with their patients in the early 1900’s. Later, in the 1950’s, Dr Dean Affleck of the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute devised a method of telepsychiatry using two-way close-circuit television, and the concept of telemedicine was born. Ever since, multiple different concepts and services have been introduced, some involving the interaction of a therapist, and others, such as computer-based psychoeducation apps and programs, using technology to provide the answers.

Is it effective?

There have been numerous research studies exploring the effectiveness of internet based interventions which suggest they are just as effective as face-to-face counselling (Barak et al., 2007; Kessler et al., 2009), and especially so in the areas of stress, anxiety and depression. Of course,  as with any other modality, its effectiveness will depend upon many factors, and what works well for one person may not necessarily be the choice of others.

What are the advantages?

The advancement of internet and wireless technologies has led us to a time when distance-based psychological therapy is more widely available than ever before. This provides the opportunity to access counselling whenever and wherever you need it, regardless of your geographic location. It also gives access to a wide range of people who might otherwise find attending a face-to-face appointment difficult, whether this be due to work and travel difficulties, time issues, or physical or mental disability (such as wheelchair access, sight or hearing impairment, or issues with agoraphobia etc.)  Also, the exclusion of having an immediate face-to-face interaction can increase instances of disclosure, leading to situations where sharing and talking about difficult topics can feel more manageable. Furthermore, when working via email, you can allow yourself the opportunity to take your time thinking about and reflecting upon your thoughts and concerns, and the act of writing these down can have considerable therapeutic effect.

What are the disadvantages?

As far as being in a different location can have a positive effect, it also comes with some disadvantages. As I will not be in the same room as you, certain things will be missed – a gesture, a look, a tone of voice… Also, online therapy is not suitable for all people or situations. It is important for us both to consider whether this type of work will be best for you, or whether another type of therapy would be the best choice.

Secure video counselling

Video counselling is probably the closest experience to working via a face-to-face environment with a counsellor – it is very much like meeting someone via Skype, but ideally delivered via a secure and HIPAA compliant platform. I deliver video counselling via Doxy.Me, a HIPAA compliant platform designed specifically for medical and wellbeing practitioners. If you decide to try video counselling, once an appointment has been setup with me, I will send you a link via email which will transfer directly to my counselling page waiting room, ready to begin your 50 minute counselling session. I will send you a copy of the counselling agreement before the appointment, which will need to be read, signed and sent back to me before the counselling session.

Secure text chat counselling

Text-chat counselling is also delivered via Doxy.Me (a secure encrypted HIPAA compliant platform). If you decide to use this method of counselling, we will agree a time to meet together for a 50 minute text-chat counselling session. Text-chat counselling takes place in real-time (also known as synchronous communication). As with video counselling, once an agreed appointment has been made, I will send you a link via email which, once clicked, will transfer you through to my secure waiting room. I will send you a copy of the counselling agreement before the appointment, which will need to be read, signed and sent back to me before the counselling session.

Secure email counselling

The main difference between email counselling and other methods is that it is asynchronous, meaning that the discussions are not taking place in real time – there is a delay between responses. If you decide to use this option, it will be treated the same as a 50 minute appointment. We will setup a time for you to deliver the email, and you will receive a reply within 24 hours (excluding weekends). Because this is asynchronous, you can compose your email anytime you choose, taking as much time as you need. I would, however, suggest that you try and keep the time you spend writing this close to 50 minutes, and I ask that you try to keep all messages within a maximum of approximately 1000 words. I use Hushmail for all email correspondence, which allows for HIPAA compliant communication between us both. However, as mentioned above, I am only able to guarantee confidentiality from my side – once you have received the email, it is important that you keep it safe and away from other people’s eyes! I will send you a copy of the counselling agreement before the appointment, which will need to be read, signed and sent back to me before the counselling session.

Telephone counselling

I am able to offer telephone counselling to anyone within the UK – I am unable to offer this service via mobile as confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. Once we have agreed a telephone counselling appointment, I will call you at the specified time for a 50 minute telephone counselling session. I will send you a copy of the counselling agreement before the appointment, which will need to be read, signed and sent back to me before the counselling session.

How do I start online or telephone counselling?

If you are interested in giving online or telephone counselling a try, then the next step would be to contact me. We will have a chance to briefly discuss your reasons for seeking therapy, and what help I can provide in return. Before we meet for our first session, I will send you a copy of the counselling agreement to be completed, signed and returned before the session, and an intake form to be completed and returned to assist me during our first meeting – the intake process will then be continued during our first, and sometimes second session.

If you would like to know more, or if you would like to book a session, please click here or visit my Contact & Booking page.

© 2022 Sam Gibbons Counselling

© 2022 Sam Gibbons Counselling