Does it Work?
Online counselling gives people a lot of options to access mental health services on their own terms. I do online counselling because I love it and I believe in it. Research on online counselling shows that it is just as effective as in-person counselling. For some people, it may actually work better. Transportation to an office is sometimes really challenging and expensive, and for youth, getting a ride can be difficult. When people are not feeling well enough to leave home, going to a session or group in-person at an office can feel overwhelming. A session from home by video, phone or text can help people work on their mental health in a way that feels more do-able. Many people find offices or eye contact intimidating or uncomfortable, or have a lot of feelings about seeing themselves on video. Phone or text sessions can feel better than video and really focus the topics on what matters. It’s also possible to turn off the picture on a video session for yourself or the counsellor. We can tailor how we connect to work for you.
Is it Confidential?
Making sure your counselling sessions are accessible and secure is key. Before I became a counsellor I spent nine years doing IT, and have experience working with audio and video streamed online so I’m very familiar with technology and online security. I’m used to doing IT support over the phone and I’m happy to work to make sure that online counselling is as easy as possible. While any internet use has privacy risks, I work to take the least amount of risk possible by using PIPEDA- and PIPHA-compliant software. I do not provide email counselling and encourage anyone interested in my services to only share the minimum needed detail when contacting me through email.
What Software Do I Use?
I use Jane to provide online counselling and BilateralBase to provide online EMDR counselling. Jane and BilateralBase are end-to-end encrypted, secure telehealth platforms that meets all privacy legislation guidelines for providing mental health services online. They are easy to use, and is one of the many reasons I provide a free consultation so we can make sure technology isn’t getting in the way of counselling. I also work with you to make sure that we aren’t overheard, that I know where you are so if you need support, I can call in support for you. For phone counselling, we also create a code between us so that I know that I am talking to you and you know you are talking to me. We begin by confirming that you are alone and in a safe place to talk before we begin.
When is it Not For Me?
If you don’t have access to a private place or an internet connection, counselling by video or phone is not advisable. In these cases, texting may be the best option. When we do texting I use the chat in OnCall rather than SMS, to avoid anyone seeing your texting history. OnCall works on phones, tablets and computers. There are many ways to create a more private environment for your session: using headphones/microphone so only their side of the conversation is audible, playing white noise/music outside their door, or making sure other people are not in the house when they do their session. Some people get around lack of internet and privacy by doing counselling in their parked car next to a public wifi, which can raise issues around being seen in a private moment, depending on where you are parked. Having other people in the room, open doors, or people who will walk into a room without knocking or who get curious about what you might be saying are all things to think about when choosing whether video, phone or text counselling is the best option.
At this time I do not do online crisis work (active self-harm and serious and active suicidal thoughts) to ensure client safety. If you are experiencing thoughts of harm and suicide, please contact crisis line at 1-888-494-3888 or 1-800-784-2433 or wellnesstogether.ca.