Guidance around COVID-19

Written by Ellen Lees
Ellen Lees
Counselling Directory Content Team

With the ever-increasing media coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus, we know all too well the emotional, financial and physical impact this pandemic is having on both our members and our visitors. And so, we have gathered as much information and guidance as possible to help you navigate this time with minimal confusion, all the while looking after yourself.

As recent weeks have shown, the situation is ever-changing, and the sources cited throughout this page may be updated to reflect the latest information. If you are looking for specific advice, please check the links provided to make sure the details are as relevant and up to date as possible. We also encourage you to keep up to date with the latest from the NHS, Government and Public Health England.

Are you looking for mental health support?

Whether you are undergoing mental health support currently, or you are experiencing new levels of distress, worry or anxiety as a result of what’s happening right now, know that help is available. We are increasingly encouraging professionals listed with us to specify their online and telephone offerings so that those looking for help can still find it.

Please be assured that online therapy is highly successful. It is different from a standard face-to-face session and may suit some people more than others, but it remains a highly effective form of support and treatment.

Currently, we have over 10,000 professionals who offer online and telephone counselling. Simply select the type of session you would prefer (online or telephone) and search through our available counsellors until you find one you feel you resonate with. Take your time with this – while things may feel urgent, it’s important you have a connection with the therapist.

When you have found the therapist you think is right for you, send them an email.

Online and telephone therapy can be effective for a wide range of mental health problems and while we are becoming increasingly familiar with the idea of visiting the therapist’s office it is possible and increasingly common to deliver effective therapy online and by telephone.

- Counsellor Graeme Orr in his latest article, Avoid the pitfalls when choosing online counselling.

We have also produced a number of resources to help you during this time of worry. It’s likely you are practising the recommended social distancing and working from home where possible. This is a new way of living for all of us and during this turbulent time, we hope to not only share the relevant information and guidance, but uplifting content to help you look after yourself.

Are you a counsellor or psychotherapist?

If you are a mental health professional, you may be looking for advice on how to continue providing support to your clients in a safe way. With social distancing and self-isolation increasingly recommended by the government, we want to encourage our members to provide online counselling support where possible. 

Read: Private practice and Coronavirus

As well as general advice, we have collated information about preparing to work online with clients – from the training required, to the different online applications you can use to continue providing a service to your clients and the general public.

In the article, you will find information on the following:

  • working with clients during the pandemic
  • face to face sessions
  • providing online, telephone and text-based counselling
  • providing online supervision
  • preparing to work with clients online
  • training to work online
  • software applications for online therapists
  • privacy and Data Protection
  • financial support for small businesses
  • looking after yourself during the pandemic
  • relevant reading

Read: Managing Coronavirus: A Psychotherapist’s Perspective

Counselling Directory member Pam Custers MA Pg/Dip (RELATE) Accredited MBACP explores the conversations and recent agreements that have taken place at her London practice, and the steps she and her associates will be taking to support and safeguard their clients: "This is a difficult time for our clients and for our practice. Having a clear protocol enables us as counsellors to manage how we operate in an ethical way.

"In my practice, now we’ve decided on those protocols, it’s freed us up to provide the psychological support that is required around the outbreak – and I will keep asking myself if we can do more to support our clients for many months to come."

For those new to online counselling, don’t worry. In the words of the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO), “counselling online is different” – so you may well need to adjust the way you’re used to working. You will also need to be able to competently assess your own ability to deliver therapy effectively online, and the client’s receptiveness to this approach.

As a leading organisation for online counselling and psychotherapy, you can find a lot of useful information about working online on ACTO’s website.

Woman speaking on the phone

As Maja Tomse (BA Psychology, Master of Counselling, MBACP and BPS) writes in her latest article, Keep calm - online counselling is at your hand, "Online counselling is a good medium in these circumstances as some people are afraid to leave their house for fear of catching the virus or they are already quarantined. Online counselling is a convenient and confidential platform that can enable people to have a safe space to share their concerns and fears from their own home."

Resources for professionals

All information correct as of 18/03/2020.

Please note: Counselling Directory and Happiful are not affiliated with any of the organisations referenced in this article, and this article has not been sponsored by any third parties. We strongly recommend that you carry out your own research to make sure that you can make an informed choice that best suits your business. 

While we hope that this information is useful, we cannot be held responsible for any business decisions you make based on this article, or for the information published on third party sites.

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