What is Online Counselling?
Online counselling (or telecounselling) is a form of counselling and psychotherapy service provided via secure Internet technology or telephone. 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 sessions. I can provide online counselling by telephone, chat messaging or a video therapy system to people living in Ontario. Online counselling is not appropriate for every person and every issue.
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, distracted or overheard;
- you will not record any online counselling session;
- you are responsible for the security of the information on your computer, tablet and smart phone; and
- you are responsible for safeguarding any electronic communications you download, print or access.
How It Works
- We will figure out if online counselling is appropriate for you. Please see the Online Counselling Pre-Screening Questionnaire below for more information.
- We will discuss and sort out some basic housekeeping matters – like completing an intake form and consent form.
- If we will be meeting by video, I will send you an invitation that will let you know how to access the secure video system we will be using for our sessions. It is as easy as Skype but geared towards health professionals. It is always good to have a phone nearby in case you run into technological difficulties so you can give me a call. If we are meeting by phone, you will give me a call at the scheduled time of our sessions.
- We will start work on whatever brings you to online counselling.
Online Counselling Pre-Screening Questionnaire
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 or telephone 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 register for online counselling.