In previous posts, I’ve given a general overview about how to go to counselling (whether it’s preparing for counselling, finding a counsellor who is a good fit, or getting the most out of therapy), but what about video or telephone counselling? All of the ideas above are still helpful, but there are also some specific things to keep in mind.
Video and telephone counselling are becoming much more popular, often as a way to increase accessibility. Sometimes, folks live in remote communities or can’t access their local counselling services. Other times, people have a difficult time making it into the office, whether it’s because of lack of transportation, health challenges, or a schedule that doesn’t leave room for the commute.
Although video counselling can increase accessibility, in an ideal world, counselling still happens in person. We really prioritize the relationship between client and counsellor, and communicating over phone or video chat can make connecting a bit trickier. It can also be more challenging for your counsellor to see exactly what’s going on and to track your emotional experience through a screen or over the phone. There are also some limits to technology - it’s not 100% confidential, and sometimes your computer crashes or decides now is the time for a security update.
This doesn’t mean video counselling isn’t helpful, just that it’s important to be intentional about the work you’re doing and how you’re doing it. It’s also important to note that, for the most part, counsellors at Peak Resilience serve clients who live within the province of British Columbia due to registration requirements.
So how can you get the most out of video counselling?
- Make yourself comfortable and grab a cup of tea. It doesn’t matter if you’re in our office or at home in your PJs. We believe that you deserve a space that feels comfortable and soothing, and that this helps you in the work that you’re doing.
- Create a ritual. Coming into the office can be a ritual all in itself - the time you take out of your day and your commute both help create a container around the work you’re doing in therapy. How can you do this at home? Maybe it means giving yourself 10 minutes on either side of your appointment to ground, having a special corner in your apartment that’s reserved for counselling sessions, or writing down your takeaways from the session before you move back into parenting.
- Set time aside, make sure your phone is off, and that you won’t be distracted. Counselling won’t be as helpful if you’re wondering about why your phone just pinged, or distracted by your dog running around with the zoomies. It’s helpful to try to be present and focused, when it’s possible.
- Make sure your counsellor and the work you’re doing feel like the right fit. This is always important, but especially so over video counselling. Does the connection with your counsellor feel safe enough? Have you set intentions around the work you’re doing together? Have you discussed how to best make use of video counselling?
Want to read more? Take a look at our Zoom consent form or the BCACC’s standard use of technology document.
Amanda Hamm is a registered clinical counsellor who works towards making counselling more relatable, approachable, and just a tiny bit more human.