Online counselling: more than just 'zoom'
COVID-19 has changed the way that counselling is accessed and experienced. While some counsellors and clients have been using online ways of working for a long time, many have chosen to stay with 'traditional' face to face counselling. Until four years ago I was one of them, but I then felt challenged to open up to new ways of working and trained as an online counsellor. While I still love working in a room with someone, I have also learned the joys and challenges of working with technology.
As I write today any counsellor wishing to continue to work with clients is having to use remote ways of communicating; both telephone and online. Many of you reading this will think that Zoom or other video platforms is what counselling online is all about and for some, it is absolutely the best way to be counselled. It is not, however, suitable for everyone, which is why it is important to know about other options.
If you have:
- Slow broadband and/or poor mobile signal.
- No privacy in the place you live to talk to a counsellor.
- No time to think, let alone talk, to a counsellor during your day.
- The need for space to reflect.
- No desire for anyone to see you or into your home.
- You prefer text to speaking.
Then you might want to consider two other forms of online counselling that have been tried and tested over a number of years:
This is a clearly contracted, confidential way of communicating with your counsellor and working together on your issues. If you like journaling, writing letters or just to have plenty of time to reflect on what you want to say and to think about your counsellor's reply, then this might be for you. Writing an email and reading the reply can be fitted in at a time to suit you, the frequency and length of emails can be agreed between you and your counsellor and many people are surprised at how difficult issues can be safely explored in this way.
Chat (instant messaging)
Many people in today's world find texting, Whatsapping etc. a very normal and easy way to communicate. Unlike email, the responses are almost immediate, but there is still space to think and plan what you want to say in text. For some people, it is easier to put difficult thoughts and feelings into text rather than trying to find the right words to speak. It may feel more private and less exposing, but as with email, it is possible to discuss issues at depth or to problem solve if that is what you need right now.
The most important thing in all counselling is to form a relationship with your counsellor where you can feel heard and understood. I also believe that it is important to have choice; to find the right counsellor for you and the right way of communicating with them. At a time when so many choices have been taken away from us, it is even more important to know that there are still decisions that you can control. Knowing that there are at least four different ways of getting the help you need even in these challenging times, means that everyone should feel able to ask for and receive the help they need.