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Online therapy – Something to try or to avoid ?

As Corona Virus is requiring therapist to move to providing online therapy to our clients, Michelle Webster Clinical Lead at FWT talks to Clinical Psychologist Shona Lowes about her experiences of providing online therapy to clients over many years. This interview was recorded before the outbreak of corona virus.

Hi Shona, can you tell us how you offer therapy to clients online?

Hi Michelle,

I offer individual therapy sessions to clients online using video link via Zoom, Skype or FaceTime. The therapy session runs in much the same way as it would if the client and therapist were sitting in the same room.

In my initial email or telephone contact with the client, we will agree a time and date for the session and decide which form of video link we will be using. Depending on which we use (Zoom, Skype or FaceTime) I will either set up a meeting link for the start time of the session and the client just clicks on the link to join the session at the specified time (Zoom) or I will call the client at the agreed start time (Skype and FaceTime).

I ask clients to use headphones and also ensure they will not be disturbed during the session and that they are away from any distractions. The client is then able to talk about the issues that brought them to therapy and we continue the session as we would in the clinic.

Why might people choose online therapy as opposed to face to face?

Clients choose online therapy often to fit in with their work or family schedule. There is a little more flexibility in timing of sessions as I have an office base at home and I am not restricted by normal clinic opening times. Sometimes people are unable to take time off work for regular therapy sessions and so it suits them to have early evening or weekend sessions. I also work with clients from different countries and the time difference can enable suitable times, making it more convenient for people.

Within Norfolk, people may have difficulties travelling to a clinic base to see a therapist and so online therapy can work very well for those living more rurally.

Is online therapy suitable for everyone?

I think people have to feel quite comfortable speaking to someone on the other side of a screen. I am seeing more and more people who are used to using video link to talk to family members and friends, so have little difficulty using the same mode for therapy.

If someone is not sure whether this is right for them, I can arrange a short 20 minute trial to help them feel more comfortable with the technology before deciding to proceed with online therapy.

Is online therapy effective?

Once we have established that the person is comfortable with this form of therapy, then I find that it is as effective as if we were meeting in person in a clinic setting.

We know that building a good relationship with our clients is essential, do you think this is an issue for online therapy?

When I first started to work in this way, I was a little concerned that the therapeutic relationship would be more difficult to establish. However, I have found that once we are settled with the technology, then the process of building rapport and the therapeutic process flows in the same way as clinic based therapy would.

Do Clients need to be good at using a computer?

Basic computer skills are fine, calls may be on computer, tablet or mobile phone and I find that most people are able to manage this.

Is it confidential?

I adhere to the same procedures to ensure confidentiality as I would in a clinic session. I always make sure that clients are in a private space where they cannot be overheard or disturbed and similarly I am in my office space which is private and where I will not be overheard or disturbed. Everything we talk about in the session remains confidential and any client details I hold are stored in a locked filing cabinet.

Is there a younger age limit for therapy online?

I am able to see young people from the age of 18years for online therapy and may also meet with their parents if this is appropriate. Other therapists will work with other age groups.

Although I do not see younger teenagers and children for online therapy, I am able to offer consultation to parents regarding difficulties their children are experiencing, enabling them to support their child and work with their child to overcome these difficulties.

Shona you’ve been using online therapy for the last 8 years. If someone was thinking about online therapy what would you say to them?

I would encourage anyone to give it a try, some people are naturally a little apprehensive to begin with but usually feel more comfortable once we have met online either with a 20minute trial or following the first session. Therapy online follows the same process as therapy in person, is as effective and can be more convenient and flexible.

Thank you Shona for talking about your experiences of providing online therapy. If you would like to arrange an appointment with Shona or one of our other therapists providing online therapy please contact us for more information.

Michelle Webster
Clinical Lead and Founder
Feel Well Therapy

Mobile : 07957350396