I offer online counselling through secure Internet technology in two ways: one is through real-time secure messaging (like instant messaging) and the other is through video counselling when a client is not able to make it in for their in-person session. Online counselling is not appropriate for every person and every issue.
Since technology is used and we are not in the same physical location at the same time, online counselling services will be experienced differently than face-to-face in-person sessions. And that may be exactly why you are considering it! Sometimes, showing up to therapy and telling a therapist stuff that you have not been able to share face-to-face in-person with somebody is … hard (perhaps too mild a word?) … and you find it … easier (more bearable?) … to write in your own space. Sometimes, you show up to therapy and afterwards you think … hmmm, wow, I could maybe use some extra support before my next session. Sometimes, getting to the office for regular sessions is not the easiest thing in the world because life gets in the way (I live in the real world too, you know!). This means that writing in your own space, at the time of day that works for you, however late or however early, can be a life changer. An extra benefit is that you can “remember” what we’ve been talking about in session because it’s written down and you can see it by logging in to our “online counselling room”.
Also, take a look at Technology Issues and the Online Counselling Pre-Screening Questionnaire below and let me know if any of these are a concern for you.
Online counselling services may be disrupted or distorted by unforeseen technical problems. You will need to do your best to ensure the proper functioning of your electronic equipment before each session begins. Despite efforts to ensure high encryption and secure technology, there is always a risk that the transmission could be breached and accessed by an unauthorized person. To protect your privacy during online counselling sessions:
- you will need to find a quiet, comfortable environment away from other people so that you will not be interrupted or distracted;
- you will not record any online counselling session;
- you are responsible for the security of the information on your computer, tablet and smartphone; and
- you are responsible for safeguarding any electronic communications you download, print or access.
Are you thinking about taking your life in the next few hours?
If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, please know it takes a lot of courage to admit to yourself that you think that you could take your own life. Please dial 911, contact a mobile crisis unit, call your local distress centre, contact your family doctor, or go to the emergency department of any hospital. Please click on Crisis for more information.
Are you seeking online counselling to deal with sexual abuse you’ve never disclosed before?
If you would like online counselling to deal with sexual abuse, please know that, at this time, I believe the best approach in your situation is to speak to an in-person counsellor. Please take care of yourself.
Have you been the victim of violence or threats in the past three months?
If you have been the victim of violence or threats recently, I do not recommend online counselling at this time. Your safety is critical. If you believe you are safe at the moment, I encourage in-person counselling.
Have you been violent with or threatening to anyone within the past three months?
If you have been violent with or threatening to somebody recently, please know that it takes a lot of strength to acknowledge this. However, at this point in time I believe that in-person counselling is the best approach to help people become non-violent. Please understand that you can change violent behaviour, and counselling can help.
Are you experiencing symptoms of psychosis?
If you think you may be experiencing psychosis or feel as though you are losing touch with reality, please seek a thorough medical assessment as soon as possible. According to Canadian Mental Health Association (see “Psychosis”), psychosis is “is a serious but treatable medical condition that reflects a disturbance in brain functioning. A person with psychosis experiences some loss of contact with reality, characterized by changes in their way of thinking, believing, perceiving and/or behaving. For the person experiencing psychosis, the condition can be very disorienting and distressing. Without effective treatment, psychosis can overwhelm the lives of individuals and families.”
Are you comfortable with computers, tablets or smartphones?
If you are new to computers, tablets, smartphones or the Internet, or if you are uncomfortable with computer, tablet or smartphone technology or typing, you may prefer in-person counselling rather than online counselling. If you are comfortable with computers, tablets and smartphones and with navigating the Internet, are able to solve minor problems while working with computers or while on the Internet and you comfortably and regularly use email and its associated features, then online counselling may be appropriate for you.
Can you find a private place to do your online counselling?
Please do not engage in online counselling from your work computer. If you do, you risk experiencing technical problems. As well, employers sometimes monitor how employees are using their computer equipment, which could expose your confidential information.
Please consider the emotional nature of counselling. If you are being regularly interrupted by friends or family, you will probably not get the most out of your online counselling experience. I recommend that you make sure you have a private time and location for your computer before you book an appointment for online counselling.