Whether you’re thinking of meeting clients via video call, email or messaging, choosing where to talk is an important part of online work. We can help you to understand the basics of the more secure technical tools and resources that are also GDPR compliant.
For many face-to-face counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists and those trained pre-internet days, meeting clients online is a relatively new concept. For some, it’s like entering a whole new world, and that’s why we’re here to help!
Here are some of the questions we answer, such as:
- What is online therapy?
- What are the benefits of online therapy?
- How do I set up my online practice?
- What technical tools can I use to stay safe online with clients?
- Which technical resources are GDPR compliant?
WHAT IS ONLINE THERAPY?
To keep it simple, it’s a convenient way for a counsellor, therapist or psychologist to meet and work therapeutically with their client through the Internet. It can be a safe environment with the same level of confidentiality and privacy that is offered by traditional face-to-face therapy.
Types of Online Communication
An online counselling or therapy service can be provided through different electronic mediums (Web-based systems and Apps). Below are the three main ways to communicate.
1. Through Video Calls
This type of online communication is most similar to face-to-face therapy in that you meet via a webcam (camera) on your computer, phone / device. Skype can be used, it’s a useful product but these days there are other more secure video call providers. The ones we mention here also offer a FREE VERSION including a helpline. They are easy to install and easy to use for both therapist and client. Most importantly, the video call systems we review on WhereToTalk are all GDPR Compliant, or will be by May 25th 2018!
2. Through Email
This is where the therapist and client exchange emails. Counselling / Therapy has undergone a massive change with more people wanting to access online therapy and that includes Email Therapy. There are two types of email therapy, synchronous and asynchronous that gives clients choice.
There is now FREE emailing software that is easy to install. Many health professionals use this when working with their clients. It allows a more secure end-to-end encryption.
3. Through Messaging
Instant messaging offers a live conversation/chat in real time. It differs from other mediums such as email due to the perceived quasi-synchrony of the communication between therapist and client. Most instant messaging is web-based or on messaging apps.
There are now FREE software systems that many health professionals use for messaging clients. It can also be used as a back up when there are video connection glitches and allows for more secure messaging between you and your client.
THE BENEFITS OF ONLINE THERAPY
Therapy has always been the meeting of the therapist and client face-to-face within a room. However, for clients this often means finding time in a hectic life for appointments. It can mean having to arrange childcare or time off work, while also having to accommodate for travel-time, to-and-from appointments. From this perspective, the meeting of the therapist and client within a virtual room at home or remotely through written communication can work well for both therapist and client. It offers a higher level of accessibility, flexibility and convenience compared to face-to-face counselliing.
ACCESSIBILITY & FLEXIBILITY
- By reducing the waiting time for sessions and between sessions, it makes it more flexible and accessible. This is especially true for busy people and appointment times in high demand, such as evening appointments.
- There is no need to travel or find a parking space
- The therapist can easily connect with the client who is looking for help, and the client in turn can easily connect with the therapist.
As a client you are able to receive support from the comfort of your own home, or wherever it is that you are. This can be a hugely beneficial aspect for the following individuals:
- People who find it difficult to leave home because of social anxiety and agoraphobia
- Housebound and/or disabled individuals, chronic illness etc.
- Carers unable to take a break, even for a short time
- Parents who can’t afford childcare.
- Busy people who travel frequently
- Busy people who are not able to commit to face-to-face appointments.
- People living in rural and remote areas.
- For some hearing impaired, email and messaging makes therapy accessible.
SETTING UP ONLINE THERAPY
Online counselling and therapy has rapidly increased in popularity. Most counsellors, therapists and psychologists now recognise that this way of meeting clients can be effective and more convenient for everyone. However, it is still in its’ infancy, leaving the job of locating the best technical tools and resources for online practice with healthcare practitioners.
If you’re thinking about setting up, or want to improve your online practice, there are certainly things to think about. For example, which are the most secure video call, emailing and messaging software systems to use.
GDPR Compliant Software Systems
The software systems we mention here are designed to give you an ‘easy to install’ process and ‘easy to use’ connection for you and your clients. The few we mention offer FREE VERSIONS and are the most preferred and used by UK counsellors, psychotherapists and psychologists.
The software systems we review on WhereToTalk are all GDPR Compliant, or will be by May 25th 2018!
There are also other important aspects to consider, such as insurance and possibly enrolling on a training course.
Think about your insurance.
With practicing online and possibly crossing countries, find out which countries your current insurance covers. Some insurance companies cover all countries, and others do not cover all countries and that includes USA & Canada. Make sure your policy states which countries are covered so you know where you stand.
Think about going on a training course for online practice.
It will answer a lot of questions and lessen concerns. There are no legal regulations stipulating that training / certificates for online practice are required within the UK. However, whether training is taken up or not, it’s wise to understand the ethical issues related to online practice.
Choosing where to talk with clients is an important part of online work and you’ll find top tips for a safe and secure online practice here on WhereToTalk.
Online therapy is not for everyone. Nor is it a substitute for face-to-face sessions, but research so far shows it to be surprisingly successful. The studies confirm that online therapy can have a place and value. Indeed, there is evidence to suggest that it is as effective as face-to-face, and therefore makes therapy accessible to many more people.
WHERETOTALK WAS FOUNDED BY DR ZARA KAY BENAMOR. CHARTERED PSYCHOLOGIST. CPSYCHOL.
Member for 15 yrs of The British Psychological Society Reg. No. 139529
Registered with the UK Health & Care Professions Council] Reg No. PYL 33754
'Securing Public Trust'