You may have lots of questions about online counselling and so I hope that the following will help to explain how it all works.
Yes, The Online Therapy Institute has produced an “Ethical Framework for the Use of Technology in Mental Health” which I follow and this can be found at: http://onlinetherapyinstitute.com/ethical-training/
Yes, I am a member of the British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists www.bacp.co.uk and the Association for Counsellors and Therapists Online www.acto.org.uk and follow their Professional Codes of practice in order to practice safely and ethically. I am also a member of the International Cultic Studies Association www.icsahome.com
Yes. After achieving my qualifications to become a counselor working with face-to-face clients, I also underwent specialist training to do Online Counselling with “On-Line Training for Counsellors Ltd” www.onlinetrainingforcounsellors.co.uk and achieved a certificate and then a Diploma in Online Counselling awarded by The Counselling and Psychotherapy Central Awarding Body, www.cpcab.co.uk/ (Please refer to the “About Me” section on this website for further details of all my professional qualifications.)
Yes, I have regular Clinical Supervision in order to ensure that I am practicing in a safe and ethical manner. During my Supervision sessions I may discuss our work together with my supervisor as part of my ongoing professional development, but I don’t include any identifiable information about you.
I have been practicing as a counselor for several years now, and have worked both in private practice and for some mental health Charities in West London and am qualified to work with adults over the age of 18.
I have experience of counselling clients going through a variety of different life events, or who have mild to moderate mental health issues. I have also worked with people who have left cultic groups and relationships who would like to start new lives, and I have undergone specialist training in this area.
I am happy to work with most issues and situations that you may have, but if I feel that we would not be able to work together, then I will help you to find a counsellor or suitable organization that is better equipped to help you.
Just as with all forms of communication via phone and the internet, various government agencies worldwide filter and monitor all online communication in order to prevent terrorist threats, and for the public’s protection.
It is important to be aware that there are other people though who will unfortunately try to hack into online information, and that is why it is highly recommended to have anti-virus and firewall programs installed and regularly updated on your computer to protect yourself against this and any potential viruses, and it is also advised that you take some other extra precautions to protect yourself. For example, when sending e-mails I like to use safe-mail.net which automatically encrypts them.
I only store information about you that is relevant to our therapeutic work together, and this is stored securely, and when no longer needed after our work finishes, this will be destroyed. I am registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office www.ico.gov.uk for Data Protection Registration and in order to comply with the Data Protection Act. This means that your personal details and any information about you will not be passed on to any third party without your permission.
Information about you and our sessions is stored securely as my laptop is password protected and only used by me, and I back up all confidential files onto an external drive which is kept locked away when not in use.
Counselling sessions are confidential, but there are certain occasions when this confidentiality can be broken; if you give me any information about either yourself or others being at risk of any harm, or about any illegal activities (such as child abuse, terrorism, money laundering etc). I am then bound by law to notify the appropriate authorities about this, but would discuss this with you.
For your own safety online, please take precautions if you are using a shared computer or accessing the internet in a public place, and be careful that your password details and conversation cannot be seen/heard or copied by others. (I can give you more information on how to protect yourself if needed.) It is also really important that you have an up to date anti-virus and firewall program installed on your computer in order to protect you from any possible hackers and viruses.
I have Personal Indemnity Insurance which covers me for providing online counseling worldwide. However, certain countries such as the USA require counselors to be licensed within their individual state boundaries, and so I am not able to offer online counseling to clients living there. As I live in the UK and my personal indemnity insurance is registered here, I practice under UK law.
First of all please contact me by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org stating your name, contact details and what you would like counselling for. I will then reply and send you a Client Details Form to fill in, and also a Counselling Contract which you will need to agree to (by dating and returning to me,) before any counseling can begin. I will then contact you with further details of how to send your email sessions to me, and how to pay for your sessions.
Your first initial email assessment session will be free, during which we will determine what your needs are and how best to work together.
I charge £40 per email session thereafter.
(Please note that if you are a student or have exceptional circumstances of hardship, that I may be able to offer a reduced fee, so please discuss this with me.)
Sometimes misunderstandings can happen, and if you have any concerns about our work together, I hope that you will feel able to discuss this openly with me so that we can rectify things as soon as possible. As I am a member of the BACP (British Association of Counsellors and Psychotherapists) which is the professional body that I practice under, should you wish to lodge any complaint, then this would have to go through them. (www.bacp.co.uk)
You are free to end our counseling sessions at any point after first giving at least one session’s notice so that we can then review the work we have done together and to bring our counselling to a proper ending.
Please go to your nearest hospital, Doctor or health professional to get immediate help. You can also contact the following organisations online if you need to talk to someone in between our sessions: email@example.com and www.befrienders.org
If you become too unwell, please be aware that online counseling may not be the best form of treatment for you, and it may be best then to approach your Doctor so that he can provide more appropriate support for you such as referring you to be seen by secondary care service professionals.
I provide online counseling using e-mail exchanges.
I work in an integrative and person-centred way, which means that I work with a variety of approaches to tailor the work to you as an individual, and will follow your direction as to what works for you. I also work in a holistic way, which means that I work with the whole person, and we will look at all of the various factors which may affect you, such as your feelings, relationships, work, health, environment, spirituality, culture, family history etc.
Sometimes I may challenge you with questions to help you explore possible options that you can choose, and will work with you to help unlock your own inner strength and potential, but I will not tell you what to do or give you advice. This is because it is ethical and best that you be responsible for your own choices and actions, in order to remain in control.
I also will not judge you, but will try to provide an accepting, warm and understanding place for you to explore and express your feelings. If you wish, our work can also involve some practical exercises and coping skills and I can also provide some psycho-educational material and information if this is what you would like.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to answer anything that is not covered here, and to provide you with any additional information.