Online Counselling and Supervision Services

Middle age senior woman sitting at the table at home working using computer laptop with a confident expression on smart face thinking serious - Online Counselling and Supervision Services

Online Counselling and Supervision

While we prefer to see clients face-to-face and in person, we recognise that it’s not always possible to meet that way, particularly during the COVID-19 lockdown. Therefore, we offer telephone or online counselling where appropriate. Sometimes it’s helpful to provide a blend of face-to-face and online/telephone work; meeting in person when we can, and remotely the rest of the time. We have even worked with couples, with one person in the room and the other joining us online.

However, when the client is not physically in the room, there are some other things that we each need to consider. These include: ensuring privacy, using technology, confidentiality and the potential disinhibition that comes from remote working.

Ensuring privacy

When we are working face-to-face, it’s easy for both of us to be confident we are in a private space and cannot be overheard or overlooked. With online counselling, it’s harder to ensure that’s the case.

While your counsellor will continue to work in a confidential context, we require you to ensure your privacy. That’s not always easy in a busy household, and some clients have come up with creative solutions (such as doing counselling from their car). If it became apparent during a meeting that you are not in a private space, we could not continue the session but would have to charge for it as we have committed the time.

We take data protection and client privacy seriously. Full details regarding the data we collect, how we use and store it are in our privacy policy, which also sets out the legal basis we rely on in processing your data.

Technology

We use Zoom or Skype for video calls as they seem to be appropriately robust and secure. If we were using Zoom, we would send you a meeting invitation shortly before the session starts. With Skype, you would need to send your counsellor your contact details in advance so they could call you at the agreed time.

If the preferred technology fails, we can fall back to FaceTime, WhatsApp or a phone call. However, we could not extend the session to make up for any lost time, and we would still charge for a failed appointment (unless the problem was at our end) as, again, we have dedicated the time to you.

Confidentiality

No technology is invulnerable to hacking, so we cannot guarantee that a call could never be intercepted. We keep our phones, computers and software fully up-to-date and follow best practice guidance to keep our systems safe and advise that you do the same.

The disinhibition effect

The perceived distance and anonymity associated with remote working can lead to people saying things that they might not have said face-to-face. Particularly so if we cannot see each other and might never meet. While it can be beneficial for a client to feel able to be more open, it can also lead to saying things they later regret. We are used to that, and will do all we can to help keep you safe. And they would treat anything you might say in confidence, as per our counselling agreement.

Making payment

We can take payment for online counselling by credit or debit card, bank transfer and, if no other option is available, PayPal. We also accept payment on an invoice from established organisations. Your counsellor will give you details of how to pay.

Making an appointment

We don’t offer an online booking service at present. If you would like to make an appointment, please call us on 0151 329 3637 or email enquiries@counselling-matters.org.uk. Alternatively, you could complete our online referral form and we will get back to you.

Further reading

BACP (2020) Telephone and online counselling.