Are you considering online therapy?** This mode of counselling is becoming increasingly popular as people try to navigate busy schedules with limited availability for wellness appointments. It also suits people who live in small towns and have little access to helping professionals.
But even if neither life circumstance applies to you, online communication has for many people become a comfortable and easy way to connect with others. If you simply enjoy communicating online from the comfort of your home and are familiar with online technology, you may be an ideal candidate.
Online therapy works in exactly the same way as in-person counselling, except the comfort that can arise from being in the physical presence of another person is, of course, not there. But you will receive the same focus and attention, and may well find that this way of counselling works better for you than in-person therapy.
A typical online therapy session
Once you make an appointment for online therapy I will send you the usual intake and confidentiality forms that I send to all my clients prior to a session. These forms tell me important things about who you are, a little about your family and medical history, and your expectations for counselling. The confidentiality form lets you know how your information is protected and provides the safety and security of knowing that our conversations remain private. Prior to the session I will also send you an invoice detailing the rate for the type of session you have booked (individual, couples, 60 mins, 90 mins.) Payment will be due within 24 hours of the end of the session.
Once the formalities are out of the way, how the session runs will depend on your comfort level. I like to get to know who my clients are outside of the “problem” that has brought them for counselling. This also helps ease you into the conversation and gives me a sense of how you are doing right now.
At the end of the session we will talk about what worked well for you and what may not have worked so well. Counselling is a collaborative process in which you are the expert on your life. If you have a particular need or preference for the way we work together, I like to check in and discover what that is.
Whilst you may be used to chatting to friends using online tools such as FaceTime, Google Hangouts, and Skype, none of these platforms can guarantee protection of your private information and the content of our conversations. In order to guarantee 100% confidentiality, I conduct online counselling sessions via Regroup Therapy, a platform for health professionals which uses a high quality video service called Zoom. Not only does ReGroup offer encrypted video conversations, the service will also confirm your appointment date and time, and set you up in a client waiting room when you sign on for your session.
If you are not overly technical, don’t panic! Zoom couldn’t be easier to use. Once you have booked your appointment with me via phone or email you will be walked through the following steps:
- Appointment notification via email. You will receive email notification of the date and time of your session, a link to the session and a PIN number to enter when you log on. Please aim to be present at the session and ready
- Invitation to download Zoom.
- When it’s time for your appointment, join the video chat.
- When your counsellor is ready, the session will begin.
A note about using your cell phone for sessions:
You may join a session on a smart phone or tablet provided you have the zoom app installed (find it in the App store under Zoom Cloud Meetings). However, I strongly recommend that you do not use a cell phone for sessions whenever possible. In my experience, the small screen size and hand held system will not offer the environment and comfort required to relax in a session and focus on yourself.
Rates, Insurance & Payment
Individual session: 60 mins: $100 | 90 mins $140
Couples therapy: 60 mins: $120 | 90 mins $160
Please check with your insurance provider and/or employer to determine whether online counselling sessions are covered by your policy or workplace. Some policies may stipulate in-person counselling only; others may specify that sessions be with a psychologist. I do not bill insurers directly.
10 Tips for a Successful Online Therapy Session
- Set up early. If you log on just as your session is about to start and then find you have technical issues, or your wifi is down you will lose valuable appointment time. Your counsellor will wait for you, but may have an appointment scheduled right after yours.
- Ensure appropriate lighting. In a therapeutic conversation it’s important to be able to see the client. Please make sure there is enough light in the room that you can be clearly seen.
- Download Zoom beforehand. When you receive confirmation of your appointment it’s important that you follow the instructions to download zoom right away. This allows you to become familiar with the platform ahead of your counselling session.
- Make sure you won’t be interrupted. If you share a home with others, find a location where you won’t be interrupted and let people know you need some quiet time for an hour.
- Use headphones if possible. This will help to keep you focused, block out background noise, and ensure you are able to hear your counsellor.
- Close down other programs and apps on your laptop. Email popups and notifications are distracting, not to mention the fact that having other programs open will likely slow down your computer.
- Bring a beverage. Bring a tea, coffee or any beverage of your choosing, but no alcohol please.
- Eat first, not during. Whilst you may be used to chatting online with friends and family while enjoying your favourite bag of chips, eating during our session will be a major distraction for both of us. Please make sure you are well fuelled before the session begins.
- Bring a box of tissues. If you are comfortable with your emotions and know that our discussions are likely to trigger tears, please be prepared with tissues.
- Switch off your phone (if using a laptop/desktop), or preferably leave it in another room.
**Please note that I am not licensed to practice therapy in the USA. I am therefore only able to offer online therapy to Canadian clients.