All sessions are currently online using Zoom, FaceTime or VSee. Working online is slightly different to working face to face, because online we haven't got the little in-person clues that we all pick up on when we meet with another person face to face, it really is very helpful and in most cases essential to have clarity about certain things. Online counsellors will make explicit to you any information which will help you feel secure and safe within your work together.
Tips on getting the most out of online therapy
Find a quiet place where you are comfortable and have as much privacy as possible.
Make yourself comfortable.
Ensure you have adequate broadband signal for the session.
Remember to close down programs that may slow down your computer, and turn off notifications that could be distracting in session.
If you have a laptop/computer – I would recommend using that than your phone. Or if you only have your phone prop it up so you aren’t having to hold it up for 50 minutes.
Please make sure there is not a lot of background noise i.e. washing machines, people.
If you are taking the session out walking – sitting down is often better so that you are able to focus on the session.
Do be aware of whether you are somewhere that is windy that it may be difficult to hear each other properly or of potential signal issues.
It can be difficult to find a quiet space if you share your home with others, so make them aware and agree a time where you will not be disturbed.
Please ensure that you secure your computer and emails against unauthorised viewing by third parties. This may include adopting the use of password protection for all personal email accounts and documents etc. It is recommended that you do not engage in online counselling using a public computer where the content of exchanges could be viewed by others in close proximity.
Is Online Therapy right for me?
There are many reasons people come to therapy…feeling overwhelmed, suffering loss or unexpected change, work pressure, difficult relationships at home or at work, worries about health. Some suffer depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, or a traumatic incident, and feel unable to cope with the effects. Unfortunately, not all problems can be resolved through online counselling and I will advise you if I consider face-to-face counselling or some other form of support may be more appropriate to your personal needs and presenting issues. I will also help you as much as is possible to find the most suitable alternative resources. Online counselling is not for everyone but can be very useful to those who have busy lives, or have mobility restrictions, or feel they would prefer contact from the comfort of their own space, or without face to face contact. My experience is that distance does not take away from the effectiveness of therapeutic contact, in fact it can enhance it as the focus is without distraction.
What happens if I have computer/connection problems which prevent me keeping the session?
At times connection or signal problems can happen. Where either of us experiences a technological breakdown, in advance of the session we will arrange an alternative form of contact to use should there be a problem. If this is not possible, we can discuss how to re-arrange the scheduled session.
Concessions may be available according to income. Please contact me to discuss if you feel this could apply to you.
There is a 72-hour cancellation policy. If you have made payment for a session but are unable to meet at the appointed time, please let me know as soon as possible.
The full charge will apply for unattended or cancelled sessions with less than 72 hours notice.
For cancellations with over 72 hours notice the fee will be refunded without delay.
If we have experienced a technological breakdown which prevents us meeting online, we would use the pre-arranged alternative means to continue our session where possible. If that isn’t possible we would re-arrange the scheduled appointment. If that option isn’t open to us, a refund would be made.
Confidentiality is key to the success of therapy. Practitioners guard it closely and with vigour. The content of our sessions will not be communicated to a third party, except for the purposes of mandatory clinical supervision. As a member of BACP, it is a requirement that I have regular supervision. This is to support me in my work with you and ensure that I work ethically and safely. Counsellors/psychotherapists do not reveal names of their clients in clinical supervision. My supervisor is also bound by the confidentiality requirements of their professional body.
During the course of our contract I will hold your contact information which will be deleted when our contact ends. I am required for good practice to keep very brief records. All personal information about you, clinical notes, and instant messaging transcripts will be stored securely using coded ID, encryption, and passwords. Anything stored offline will be coded and in a locked filing cabinet. All emails with personal information will be deleted as soon as the data has been protected within my secure system. Personal data/records of our sessions will be kept for up to 7 years after our work together has ended. Your personal data/records will be disposed of by wiping the electronic files and shredding any handwritten information. You can also request (in writing) that this data is destroyed : during our contact, once our work together ends, or at any time thereafter. I will not share the content of our sessions with a third party.
Exceptions to the confidentiality rule apply where there is risk of harm to yourself or risk of harm to others. If at all possible I would always discuss a potential breach of confidentiality with you in advance.
• With regard to online counselling via email, text/message, and video, the police and other authorities can ask for access to an individual’s email account or synchronous messaging account where there is suspicion of illegal or terrorist activities. They can also ask counsellors for access to stored records. Counsellors are not able to guarantee confidentiality in these circumstances. Additionally, all counsellors are legally bound to make disclosure to authorities if a client reveals that they are intending to cause risk of harm to others.
• If at any point during the counselling you were in need of emergency, medical, or additional support, I may ask for your consent to contact your GP or relevant services. I may also recommend alternative avenues of support to online counselling.
Guidelines for emergency contact
Online counselling cannot provide an emergency service. Emergencies or strong suicidal feelings need urgent attention. If you feel you are or may be in crisis please contact your local emergency services. The following contacts may also be useful -
Information on Online platforms
Zoom for Telehealth (https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2017/02/15/how-zoom-secures-your-meetings/)
"Security is our highest priority. We have built the most secure network with the most robust security features for our customers. In fact, many of the world’s most-trusted information security companies trust Zoom with their meetings.......Zoom is SOC2 compliant, certified by TRUSTe for privacy, and an active participant of the EU-US Privacy Shield Framework. Zoom also enables HIPAA compliance and we’ll sign a BAA."
VSee (https://vsee.com/security/) "... is a secure application that is fully encrypted to a high standard and is HIPAA compliant, which is an additional protection that is required by law in the US (but not in the UK). This means that it is very difficult for a third party to hack into the communication and all stored data remains fully encrypted."
FaceTime (https://www.apple.com/uk/privacy/approach-to-privacy/) “We use end-to-end encryption to protect your ... FaceTime conversations across all your devices. With watchOS and iOS, your messages are encrypted on your device so that they can't be accessed without your passcode. ... And we never store the content of FaceTime calls on any servers.”
ProtonMail (https://protonmail.com/security-details)is a secure encrypted email platform. ProtonMail's zero access architecture means that your data is encrypted in a way that makes it inaccessible to even Protonmail. Data is encrypted on the user side using an encryption key that they do not have access to. This means they don't have the technical ability to decrypt our messages, and as a result, they are unable to hand our data over to third parties. “With ProtonMail, privacy isn't just a promise, it is mathematically ensured. For this reason, we are also unable to do data recovery. If you forget your password, we cannot recover your data”.
There can never be a 100% guarantee that online counselling is safe, but with awareness, attention, and diligence, the risk that a third party can access the communication or its records, is minimal.
Please email me prior to your first appointment, and let me know your choice of online platform and the contact details. My secure email is firstname.lastname@example.org