Online therapy provides a viable option to meeting face-to-face, but the digital space it opens out is different to seeing a therapist in the counselling room. There is the absence of the ritual of making a journey from one’s home to the therapist’s premises, the loss of the therapist's room as a safe and stable container for the work of therapy, and the reduced sense of immediacy because the screen image takes the place of a living person.
It is the therapist's responsibility to help you to feel as comfortable as possible in that space, but you will also be expected to give some thought and care to preparing for the session yourself, as you would in real time. It is crucial that the space from which you are conferencing with me is safe, secure, and private.
You may have reservations around confidentiality, privacy and complicated or unreliable technology, or other questions about meeting in this way.
Please feel free to raise your concerns when making contact by email or phone and I will be very happy to talk them through with you.
How does online therapy work?
My therapeutic workspace is private and confidential. I use a full-size monitor.
I make use of Zoom - a secure, reliable conferencing tool, available for Windows, Mac, iOS or Android, which can be used either on a computer or a mobile phone. Unlike Skype, Zoom has no contacts list and I simply send you a link each time. Each conversation is protected by a unique password that is unavailable to anyone but yourself. When the conversation ends the password and the link expire, so there is no means of tracing your use of the service.
You do not have to have a Zoom account to have a conversation on Zoom.
A few minutes before our scheduled appointment, I will send an invitation to your email address, which includes a link, meeting id and password.
Click on the link for the Zoom meeting (highlighted in blue)
When prompted, add your designated Meeting ID and/or password.
The meeting automatically begins in Speaker View and you can see yourself and myself on the screen in front of you.
If you do not want to see yourself on the screen, right-click your video to display the menu, then choose “Hide Myself.”
If you want to download and install the Zoom Application (which is free of charge), go to Zoom's website and click on the Download button under “Zoom Client For Meetings”. This application will automatically download when you have your first zoom conversation.
When engaging via video conferencing, we both agree not to record sessions.
If our connection fails during the course of the session, we can attempt to reconnect, transfer to a telephone conversation or reschedule for a later date.
I can also use Skype, FaceTime or Teams if you would prefer.
How to make best use of online therapy
You can help yourself to make the most of online therapy by going through this checklist:
- Give yourself 10 -15 minutes before a session to relax and clear your head, so that you feel relaxed and focused (and maybe 10-15 minutes afterwards before plunging back into activity)
- Find a safe, private and peaceful place where you will not be observed, distracted or interrupted
- Give yourself time to get comfortable and open up the computer. Have a (non-alcoholic) drink, a box of tissues and whatever else you need within arm’s length
- Turn off any other devices such as your mobile phone which could distract you
- Therapeutic conversations are unlike normal interactions on your phone or screen. You should not be engaged in any other activities during the session to avoid any distraction from our conversation
- Trust the therapist to manage the timing of the session and any technical glitches which may arise.
Therapy is a collaborative process: I seek to be as honest as I can be and invite you to be the same.
Therapy could be of great help to you if ...
- You are willing to take a fresh look at yourself
- You could consider the possibility that you are partly responsible for the problems in your life
- You feel ready to explore the instincts you have about the need for change.
Counselling or Psychotherapy?
Counselling is usually short-term (between 1-12 sessions) and typically addresses how to manage problems better.
Firstly, we look at what has brought you to seek help.
Secondly, we survey the changes you might want to make.
Thirdly, we consider the obstacles and/or levers which will allow you to move from where you are now to where you would prefer to be.
Counselling is not about giving advice but about listening and helping you to feel more empowered in dealing with the challenges you are facing in your life.
Psychotherapy is more open-ended (anything from 3 months to 3 years) and addresses, not only the causes of some of the problems you face but also the purpose of them.
Often provoked by some sense of personal crisis, psychotherapy helps you to step back from outdmoded or distorted ways of being, to accept and mourn their loss and to acknowledge and integrate what is emerging in your life, summoning you to change.
A variety of approaches to therapy
There are many schools of thought when it comes to the approaches used within psychotherapy with no one 'right' method. The key thing to keep in mind when exploring your options is to research and see which therapy resonates with you. At our first meeting we will be to sound out the issue you are bringing and discern the best fit to explore them in counselling or psychotherapy. I offer a number of approaches to counselling and psychotherapy.
The Psychodynamic approach takes account of the impact of early life experiences in forming (and distorting) the way we see ourselves and the ways we relate to people around us. Past events, particularly in childhood can often hold the key to understanding negative thoughts and emotions. Brought into the light of awareness they loosen the ability of fear and anxiety to limit our actions and help us to shake off harmful patterns of thought and behaviour.
The Transpersonal approach views the human psyche as having a central core, from which our finest impulses arise: love and will, humanitarian action, creativity, spiritual insight and the drive for purpose and meaning. The word ‘transpersonal’ comes from the Latin trans, meaning 'beyond' and persona, meaning 'mask'. The therapy facilitates the unfolding of the core or true Self - the person beneath the mask of conformity, habit or compulsion.This approach seeks to facilitate the emergence of the true self to promote a better understanding, not only of the causes of our behaviour, but also the purpose of them in the unfolding of our life's meaning.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, (ACT) rather than looking at what we think, seeks to change our relationship with what troubles us, coming into the present moment - even if that moment is painful - and letting go of the impulse to leapfrog into the future. The goal is not so much getting rid of unwanted thoughts, feelings or sensations, but accepting them as part - but only part - of who we are. Once we step into the 'Now' of the Present Moment, we begin to realise that we are more than our thoughts and we do not have to wait for them to go away before we can live a happier life.
Find out more about what actually happens at a therapy session here.
Whichever approach (or combination of approaches) we might use, I employ a range of techniques, including reflective listening, exploring family history, dreams, artwork, photography, body awareness, visualisation and guided meditation.
Introducing walking outside the counselling room can be of real help to clients who may feel stuck or burdened with issues such as depression, stress or grief or who are intimidated by face-to-face therapy. Exchanging familiar but stressful surroundings for a beautiful and serene environment can shift mood and open up perspective, leaving you feeling free and moving forward.
After agreeing practicalities such as where and when to meet and wet-weather alternatives, we would spend the agreed session time talking and walking a pre-planned route, at a pace that suits you best. You could combine this with a "day out" of your own, once our session together is completed. You can learn more on my Rye website.
You may find this recent article from The Guardian of interest.
I trained as a Supervisor at CCPE in 2003, but my greatest teachers have been my own supervisors and supervisees over the years. Though I do not profess to have all the answers, I hope I can challenge you with some of the right questions.
I use a process model of supervision, in which both the therapy session and the here-and-now experience of supervision informs your awareness of your work. Inevitably my style of supervision is coloured by my own therapeutic approach, but I take full account of your own background, training and professional needs, all of which we can discuss at our first meeting
A preliminary meeting of 30 minutes is free of charge. Supervision is available for sessions of 50 or 1.5 hours. I conduct supervision online, via Zoom.