Thoughts leading up to lockdown…
It was becoming clear, that CV-19 was starting to spread throughout the UK. As the days passed and it was looking like working from home was going to become mandatory. My colleagues were starting to talk more and more about video counselling. As I work psychodynamically, “the frame” (same room, same seat etc) is so very important in making my clients feel safe and secure in their therapeutic environment. I had to inform my clients of the changes that were about to take place and wondered about their response and how this was going to affect them and the work that we were doing together.
My clients’ response to online counselling
As we approached imminent lock down, I began to prepare my clients of what was likely to become a reality. I assured them that I would try to keep their sessions at the same day and time but while being at home I may also be able to offer a bit more flexibility if required.
Some had already been using these facilities so were fine about it all, others were a bit reluctant and seemed not so keen to have a video-conferencing session, and initially preferred a telephone call. I think it became clear to us all that we were going to be asked to stay at home for a long period of time so with my help I now have all of my clients “seeing’ me each week via video conferencing.
As we hear on a daily basis, these are unprecedented times that we are all living through, and although It felt strange to start with, and with the odd, rare, technical glitch, I now feel that once myself and my client get immersed into the work, online counselling can be as powerful as a normal face to face session.
There are some people that would prefer not to use a video conferencing facility but still feel the need for some contact with their therapist. Telephone counselling can still be a very effective form of comfort and support. I have found that some very good, enlightening work can be generated from a counselling session conducted over the telephone.
But again, telephone counselling can have its difficulties. Firstly, you obviously lose the ability to see the emotion that a client may feel. Face to face or via video link, you can see that a client may becoming emotional. I feel this is quite an important element that can be missed in communication.
Eight weeks into lockdown…
I feel both myself and my clients have adapted to this new way of working although I think we would all admit to missing the face to face sessions.
As a therapist we are constantly learning and adapting to the situations we find ourselves in, and this situation has brought it to a whole new level. Like the majority in the world, we are having to learn new ways to carry out our daily lives. I have been relieved and pleased, and I hope that my clients would agree, that so far I have been able to continue to offer virtually the same level of therapy that they received from me before. This gives me the confidence that I can continue to help and support my clients for however long is needed. I also hope that people who perhaps have never had counselling before but who are finding themselves really struggling at the moment can see that counselling is still very much on offer and many therapists are ready to help them either by video link or a telephone call.