While the innovations of new technology and technological platforms were always sneaking into our lives, COVID-19 forced us to completely turn towards using these online platforms. Recently, due to this pandemic, I have completely shifted my practice to online counselling (video, telephone and text), and with this change, I have noticed a slight decline in appointment bookings due to the hesitation people have towards online therapy. So, let me clear some myths and answer some commonly asked questions.
Do you believe online counselling is just as effective as in-person?
The major component of effective therapy involves the relationship between the therapist and the client. As a trained professional with 24 years of experience, I am able to create the same therapeutic environment and connection with my client through the online platform, whether it be video, telephone or text. The goals of counselling and therapy remain intact whether one is getting help in person or online. If the client shows the willingness to get help and sticks to the goals, then no matter the medium, they will experience a positive recovery.
Is privacy and confidentiality still maintained?
Indeed, from The Thoughts side, privacy and confidentiality are assured. We use an online platform called Virtual Care that is PHIPA compliant Also, the room in which I conduct my sessions is separate and closed, once again assuring patient privacy and confidentiality because I value that. From the client’s side, it is understandable that there may be some hesitation about their own privacy as they take the sessions in their home so most likely their family members are around, which they might feel uncomfortable about. This is completely understandable, but there are a few ways to overcome this issue that most of my clients are already doing:
- Find a separate room within your home
- Sit in your backyard
- Go to a nearby park
- Sit in your car
- Book timings that work for you
- Wear headphones
***if neither of these options are possible for you, we also provide therapy over text, which is helpful for many that would like more privacy and is also very convenient and can easily be added into anyone’s schedule.
What do you think are the pros of online therapy?
- You can take the session from the location of your convenience and comfort! This means no need to worry about driving through the traffic.
- You save money! As I have reduced my fees for online counselling, plus as the client, you need not incur transportation and travelling costs
- Can easily be added into anyone’s schedule.
- Social anxiety will not stop you from receiving proper care – people with social anxiety are nervous to see people in person or just face to face, so telephone counselling is a frequent method used that surpasses this barrier and allows for the therapist to dig deeper and connect with the client in a way that the client is most comfortable in and feels safe.
- Everyone has access! Since all a remote session requires is a smartphone or computer with internet access, it is a great option for those with limited mobility and living far away from the therapist (with online sessions I am even able to help clients all over Canada) or just in a remote area.
Do you believe there are any downsides to online therapy?
Of course. I am unable to reach over and put my hand on my client’s shoulder and make them feel understood while they cry, nor can I offer them a bottle of water or Kleenex. So, while all these aspects are crucial in the therapy process, if we think about it logically, with this current COVID-19 crisis, even if I do open my clinic, these aspects will not be satisfied, due to the preventive measures.
Hypothetically, what would the sessions look like if clinics did open?
I would personally feel extremely uncomfortable as we must take preventive measures as directed by the Public Health authorities. We are required to maintain social distance and wear personal protective equipment throughout the sessions. This will act as a barrier to connect.
As said above, I will miss being able to offer my client a bottle of water or Kleenex. Rather I feel that in-person sessions during this crisis would be scarier and more stressful, than helpful.
To learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=97W8WXaDFck