Living Therapy - Counselling, Training and Supervision in Southampton Living Therapy - Counselling, Training and supervision in Southampton

A Guide To Online Counselling & Telephone Counselling

This guide gives you an introduction to online counselling and telephone counselling, how they work and how to get set up.

What are Online Counselling and Telephone Counselling?

Online counselling is over the internet and telephone counselling is over a traditional telephone (landline) or over a mobile phone. You can have telephone counselling anywhere that you have good phone reception and you can have online counselling anywhere that you have a good connection to the internet. While telephone counselling only allows you to speak to and hear your counsellor, it relies on comparatively simple technology that is familiar to everyone. Online counselling allows you and your counsellor to see and hear each other, and it requires you to install special software on your device. In this context, a device is anything that allows you to surf the internet. It may be a smartphone, PC, laptop, tablet, smartwatch, xbox, etc – these are collectively known as ‘devices’.

For some people, seeing their counsellor over the internet, or just talking over the phone can seem less daunting than a face-to-face session. Some people like to use a mixture of face-to-face and online/telephone counselling, but a growing number of people are using telephone counselling or online counselling as a complete replacement for traditional therapy. In my experience, online counselling and telephone counselling can be just as effective as traditional, face-to-face counselling.

The Benefits & Disavantages

With busy lives and many responsibilities, more and more people find they have little time to look after themselves. "I'd really like to talk to someone, but I just don't have the time to go and see a counsellor". How often have you thought that too? Depending on where you live, the journey to see a good counsellor might take as long as the session itself, or longer.

There is another option: telephone counselling or online counselling with live video and voice. It may be more convenient than traditional face-to-face counselling, and it gives you the chance to talk to someone with minimum disruption to your day and without the need to compromise your choice of counsellor.

There are a number of disadvantages to online counselling and telephone counselling, two of which are as follows:

1.The connection may be poor-quality. E.g. a video call may suddenly cut out, or there may be interference during a phone call. You can reduce the risk of this happening by using a reliable point of connection and staying still during your session.

2.Talking over a telephone line or the internet may not be as secure as a face-to-face conversation. You can mitigate against breaches of online security with a few simple steps, as described in my article about online security.

Telephone counselling doesn’t let me see you and online counselling lets me see only your head and shoulders. That means I may miss visual clues as to what’s going on for you. If personal connection is important to you, then I recommend face-to-face counselling. Alternatively, if you find face-to-face counselling too daunting, then online counselling or telephone counselling might suit you better.

I offer online counselling via Skype, Facetime and a range of other live video services. Online counselling is often just as effective as face-to-face counselling and you can have your session conveniently and comfortably in your own home, office or anywhere. All you need is a good internet connection and somewhere private to talk. I'll be happy to guide you through the set-up if you need help, and I recommend that you click here to read my software set-up guide.

Getting Started

Firstly, think about what might work best for you: would you prefer online counselling, telephone counselling, traditional face-to-face counselling, or a combination? If you would like to talk more about the various options, please click here to contact me.

Fees

I charge £40 per counselling session, whether it’s face-to-face, by telephone or online. The single fee reflects my belief that online and telephone counselling are just as beneficial as face-to-face counselling. My belief comes from the positive collective experience that I and my clients have had of online and telephone counselling.

Preparing For Telephone Counselling & Online Counselling

At the time of our appointment, I will be ready and waiting for you to contact me. Counselling sessions will be 50-60 minutes long and it’s important that you are not interrupted during the session. I make the following recommendations, to ensure our counselling sessions are confidential and uninterrupted:

Give yourself a little quite time before the session to think about how you’d like to use the session.

Make sure you are in an area that has good telephone reception and/or a good internet connection.

Choose a quiet place where you won’t be overheard or disturbed during the hour.

If appropriate, ask people not to disturb you during your session.

Choose a time of day when you are least likely to be disturbed by phone calls, etc.

Find a place that is comfortable, where you can give counselling your full attention.

Allow yourself some quite time after the session to reflect on the session.

Getting Set Up For Online Counselling

Setting up the technology for online counselling may seem daunting if you are not technically minded. If you are not sure how to install the software needed for online counselling, you should click here to read my set-up guide. If you need additional help, please let me know and I will be happy to guide you through the process over the phone. If you are confident to install and use video calling software, please click here to browse the list of applications I use and select one that is best for you.

How Safe Is Online Counselling?

There are two main aspects to consider here, the first of which is the endpoint security, which includes considerations such as whether others have access to your computer, whether you have antivirus software installed, etc. The second consideration is the connection security, which is concerned with the level of privacy that exists between the two connected devices. Of these, the most important is endpoint security, because the endpoint is where most security breaches happen. Security breaches in the connection are less common, but it’s important to choose software that gives you a level of connection security which you’re happy with. If you want to know more, click here to read my article about the security of online counselling, which links to websites where security is discussed in even greater depth.

Below is a list of simple security measures that I recommend you take, to help keep your online counselling sessions private:

If possible, use the same device for all counselling sessions.

Clear your call history after each session, to prevent someone else accessing details of our conversations.

If possible, use a device that nobody else will have access to, or if that is not possible, ensure that your data is private on that device. E.g. Windows 7 onwards allows you to set up your own private account, which you can use for online counselling.

Keep your passwords safe. Don’t tell anyone else your login details and don’t save them where someone might find them.

Make sure that you have good, up-to-date security software installed on your device.

Use your home internet connection where possible, or your office network, if you trust that the connection will secure and private. Don’t use an unsecured public network (e.g. in a library or coffee shop).

Taking the Next Step

If you’d like to know more about my online counselling, telephone counselling or face-to-face counselling service, please click here to contact me for a no-pressure consultation. Everything you tell me will be kept in confidence and there will be no pressure for you to make an appointment. I will give you as much time as you need to make a decision.