Working online during a global pandemic
Hello to all my page followers and hello to those of you that may be visiting my web page for the first time.
My name is Mary and I am a qualified Person Centred counsellor - I opened my private counselling practice in December 2019 and little did I know that we had a global pandemic just around the corner that would lead to the first national lockdown here in the UK from March 2020. Like many people in the UK I was put on furlough from my other part-time job and from my counselling placements at a couple of counselling agencies where I was volunteering I was told I had to see my clients online, or speak to them face-to-face via online video counselling. As it was no longer safe to see clients (or indeed anyone) face-to-face and be closer than 2 metres apart.
Prior to March 2020 I had never used any kind of video-conferencing platforms, such as Skype or Zoom and being the natural introvert that I am speaking to clients via the telephone would not be my first choice. I quickly enrolled on two different training courses in order to teach myself the knowledge and skills needed to counsel someone effectively online. I started off seeing clients that I had previously been seeing face-to-face online to ease myself in gradually and then I started to take on new clients that contacted me via my webpage, or BACP therapist listing: https://www.bacp.co.uk/profile/3433cf1f-5390-e711-80e8-3863bb351d40/therapist?location=Milton%20Keynes.
Whilst there have been the odd online technical glitches, with the video or sound quality of Skype/ Zoom, on the whole these sessions have run smoothly and I have been in awe of the level of relational depth that I have been able to achieve with my clients and the depth of some of the work that we have achieved together.
I can vouch for this as a therapist with my clients, but also myself being a client and working with my own counsellor online and still feeling safe and held during the work together.
My top tips for working online with your therapist would be:
If you can I would recommend to find a space in your house that is quiet and where you won't be disturbed by others - whether this be a partner, your pets, or children.
This will hopefully allow you to concentrate on the session and what thoughts and
emotions are coming up for you - without fear of being disturbed, or overheard by others.
If you don't have a quiet space in the home, some clients have used their cars to sit in to get a quiet place for their session and used their phone to connect via zoom, or Whatsapp video call.
Whilst I am talking to clients I use a headset with microphone and I would recommend that you use headphones as well if you have them. It improves privacy and I find it also improves the sound quality of the call as well.
2. Ideally you should have a strong and stable internet connection if you are having video sessions in order to maintain a good connection throughout the session. It can help to close any other programs you are running on the computer and ask other people at home to stop streaming computer games, or Netflix whilst you are having your counselling session.
When we start counselling together I will ask for a contact telephone number in case we get disconnected from the online session. Then if we are unable to regain contact via Skype/ Zoom I will phone you to continue the session.
3. My final tip for working with your therapist online would to be open-minded about the process and try the sessions online if you are unsure about whether or not you will like working this way.
Even though I had been working online with my own clients for months I still felt unsure when I was asked to move to online sessions by my own therapist due to rising infection numbers of COVID-19 in the local area. By the end of the first session it felt like we could have been in the same room together.
During the first few sessions I would work with you to try and help you to feel comfortable with working online and will be checking out with you how it feels to work this way.
If you have any questions about the work that I do, or would like to enquire about booking an initial counselling session please don't hesitate to get in contact.
The best way to get hold of me is to email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope that you all continue to stay safe and well in 2021.