On Wednesday snow arrived in Sheffield. I was ready to take my children to school and carry onto my counselling practice, when I heard that my children’s school was closed. Obviously my children were delighted. I was not. I knew I had clients. I do not like cancelling clients. However, in this instance I had no choice.
I picked up the telephone and called my first client. It turned out they could have not made the session either but they asked me if we could have our session on Skype. I already have clients on Skype so I thought that it could be a possibility and agreed. My children were bundled over the road with some friends and I sent a new contract with my client and we had our session via Skype.
As we had an established relationship it was easy to transfer from face to face to Skype. I thought it might be valuable to reflect on what is needed for skype and the pros and cons of it.
So what is needed for Skype?
It needs the client to have:
- An internet connection and Skype account. Skype is a free, high quality video conferencing programme that allows you to see and hear each other using your computer. Skype uses encryption which ensures privacy and confidentiality during the counselling session. It is easy to set up and you can use it on a desktop or tablet.
- Safe secure environment. This is important for both the counsellor and the client. It needs to be in a place where no-one can hear or you will not be disturbed. Skype counselling cannot be carried out in a public place as it is essential that the counselling sessions remain confidential.
- The client’s mobile is switched off! This ensures that the counselling session is not interrupted.
As with anything that relies on technology, Skype can be unreliable. This needs to be taken into consideration with Skype Counselling. When I see all my Skype Clients, I ask them to read and sign an online counselling contract. Before I start, I always ensure that I have a contact number allowing me to contact the client if technology fails or I am unable to contact them via Skype.
Advantage of Skype Counselling
- Clients have a wider pool of counsellors to pick from. As you are not restricted to geographical area, you can look further afield.
- Counselling is conducted in the comfort of your own home. If you are disabled or unable to leave your home then this is not a barrier for you.
- Maintain regular appointments. If you live in a rural area or work away from home, it allows you to keep up with regular appointments
- It is cheaper. My skype sessions are cheaper than my face to face as I do not have to include my travel and room rental costs.
Skype does have some disadvantages. You are unable to see the counsellor in flesh and may feel the counsellor will miss your facial expressions. However, technology is emerging and Skype does allow counselling to fit around people’s busy life schedules. It is also not suitable for anyone that is suicidal.
So how did the session go?
Our session went well and we have arranged our next session to be via Skype. Here is the client’s feedback (It is anonymous but is with their permission)
‘I was surprised how easy it was to carry on our sessions with Skype. It felt like you in the room with me and I felt at ease. In fact it felt easier talking about ‘me’ in my own home environment.’
You can find more about online counselling click here