Online counselling and online relationship counselling, are in many ways the same as traditional face to face counselling, but with some notable differences which I’ll highlight below. To make sure you get the best from counselling, it’s worth taking a few moments to go through this check list.
Here are ten ways to ensure you get the best from your online counselling programme.
Before You Start
Counselling Aims and Goals
Before you embark upon online counselling make sure you are clear about what you want to achieve. Whether you have a specific goal, such as to move on from a relationship break up, or to find a new direction after being made redundant, or something more general such as to feel happier and less depressed or to increase self esteem, make sure that your goal is firmly set in your sights.
It often helps to divide your aims and goals. Your goal is usually longer term and final, whereas aims are usually shorter term and eventually lead to the completion of your goal. So, a goal maybe to become happier and along the way you may aim to exercise more, drink less alcohol and look for a different kind of job.
If in doubt your counsellor will help you to define your aims and goals. Whichever way it works out it’s good to have them clear in your mind.
All counselling, whether online or face to face, has some form of assessment. This ranges from a cursory “what can I help you with” to a full and comprehensive 360 degree assessment which will then inform the counselling process. Make sure to ask about the assessment before you start and choose a counselling service which offers a full assessment as part of the process. Good counselling follows a good assessment.
The Small Print
Although it’s the last thing we all tend to check out, just make sure you know the finer details, most importantly the cancellation policy. There will inevitably be a time when you have to cancel at short notice and it’s good to know who pays for this time. It’s a simple thing which will avoid unnecessary stress later.
Confidential and Secure Online Counselling Sessions
This is an area which is quite different from face to face counselling. Most face to face counselling takes place in the counsellors office which is usually comfortable and professional and importantly cannot be overheard by anyone else. If you are working with a counsellor online you need to check that you cannot be overheard by anyone, and also importantly, that your online meeting is secure and cannot be hacked or left open. Without being able to offer this level of confidentiality and security, good counselling is impossible.
During Online Counselling
Space Before and After
In face to face counselling, the drive to the counselling session and the drive home are important times. On the way you have time to think through what you want to discuss and on the way home afterwards you have important process time. During online counselling this natural buffer time from the outside world isn’t there, so I would advise that you have 30 minutes before and after your session to yourself. This will give you time to prepare and also time to think through your session afterwards. This is especially important in online relationship counselling.
Online Counselling Sessions Pattern and Rhythm
Sometimes the initial agreement regarding frequency of sessions can change as the counselling process moves forward. You may find that your initial once a week session needs to be increased, or perhaps spaced out over two weeks. This all depends upon you and the way you are working. Ideally, your counsellor is flexible enough to accommodate this.
Most good counsellors keep notes about the sessions they are facilitating. It’s a good idea for both of you to do this. You can look back over sessions, review what you discussed and be prepared to move on. Without jotting down important moments things can easily get lost and you can end up feeling that you are going round in circles. Keep notes on what happening to ensure you move forward as best you can.
As part of your note taking you should also be aware of what aims you are achieving and how close you are to your ultimate goal. Counselling is all about change and it’s good to remind yourself what is actually changing. If nothing is changing then the counselling isn’t working and should be raised with your counsellor.
Change is a fickle bedfellow. It is often not a smooth or easy process and often we may need a counselling boost a little way up the road of change. What are the arrangements for this? Does this come as part of the counselling package, or is it an optional extra, or do we have to re-book and go through the whole process of getting an appointment again, and if so will it be with the same counsellor and at the same cost? All of these are worth knowing before your last counselling session and discussing the details of your ongoing support package may well be a good thing to discuss in your last session.
Life After Counselling
When you no longer need counselling and your goal has been achieved, make sure you know what has changed and how to keep it changed. History has an uncanny habit of repeating itself and unless you take measures to maintain the changes which you have made, things may well slip back and you can find yourself back at the square commonly known as one. To avoid this just jot down the things which you know you must do in order not to slip back to how things were before you started counselling.
Some people organise a 3 or 6 monthly check in session with their counsellor, just to revisit their old changes and ensure that things do not slip backwards. This is a useful option for people with busy and difficult lives
I hope you have found this useful. If you feel that you need online counselling do please take a moment to check out our online counselling page just here.
Many thanks for reading and do let me know any questions which you may have regarding the online counselling process, either with us or any other online counselling service.
Or check out our Face To Face overseas programmes just here: https://www.responsibletravel.com/member/product.asp?member=1205