Using Skype and telephone therapy
Life isn’t always easy, we know that - we also know that talking through worries and concerns helps to improve our understanding of the issues. With the consequential clarity comes improved mood, a stronger sense of control and therefore a better state of mental health.
For those times when a relative or friend is unavailable, or indeed we feel we don’t want to ‘burden’; finding professional help with a therapist/counsellor nowadays is a lot easier than it once was.
Face-to-face work, I believe, is preferable but what if your commitments, life, work, physical ability or geography mean you can’t access face-to-face support?
In my practice, I regularly work with Skype counselling therapy. Client feedback informs me that the benefits are equally as profound as ‘in the room’. The work to create a strong therapeutic alliance requires more focus because there is a clear and obvious ‘distance’ within the process - my work is to not let the ‘distance’ become a barrier or defence to the therapeutic process.
I can’t take responsibility for ensuring the quiet uninterrupted space as I can in the consulting room. Clients will occasionally have interruptions, or indeed a cup of coffee in hand; the positioning of the device e.g. mobile or tablet can mean my view of the client can be uncertain e.g. if the device falls over or is dropped etc. Not to mention the idiosyncratic nuances of the technology and connectivity itself. I work from my laptop which is static, and I place a screen behind me for consistency. Once the rules are established, the work is no different, the ebb and flow of communication settles and the process kicks in.
I run a flexible diary so aspects such as time differences cause no problem.
I also offer telephone counselling and I find this offers a more intimate aspect: We talk Mouth to Ear. We listen differently and hear with more intensity; an intake of breath, a catch in the voice, a stilted sob, laugh, a falter in the speech, a sudden abrupt movement - all can all be heard whilst not seen and reflected upon. I feel that for some clients, the ‘anonymity’ allows an intimate honesty - a different sort of safety. The freedom to say things that haven’t been able to be said - a client once said “I’m glad I can’t see your face as I’m so embarrassed at the moment, but I am SO glad you are there".
I regularly work with clients, individuals and couples, and supervisees who either live or work abroad. Clients who want to take up therapy with an English-speaking therapist for many different reasons of choice. My clients have come from many countries including USA, India and across Europe. People who could not have accessed what they needed any other way. Payment arrangements through internet banking and transfers are simple nowadays so no issues here.
Occasionally my face-to-face clients have used Skype with me when, for example, they are away due to work demands or childcare is an issue. This means that we can avoid breaks in the therapeutic process and the negative impact this can have in the work. I have also had a couple of clients who continued to work in session whilst away on holidays!
As a committed therapist and supervisor, I believe I am here to reach and serve anyone I can. The knowledge that I can facilitate the therapeutic or supervisory needs through Skype and telephone when face-to-face service is unavailable is, of course, fulfilling and the advantage to the housebound or disabled is unquestionable.
My message to therapists is don’t be feared of new technologies, increase your skill set and continue to do what you do.
My message to prospective clients is don’t hesitate in your journey to stronger emotional health: Ask how we therapists can accommodate your session access arrangement needs.
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About Lindy Medway
Counsellor, psychotherapist and supervisor with 22 years experience. Working with individuals, couples and adult families. I am senior accredited and registered with BACP, BUPA, AXA and AVIVA recognised. Based in North London offering face-to-face, Skype and telephone therapy and supervision.