Can I see a therapist online using Skype?
How to get the most out of online therapy and why it’s no less valid than meeting in-person
Many people around the globe talk to their therapist online. Given the current challenges to keep coronavirus under control, many more people are likely to switch to online therapy over the coming days and weeks. Although this is an uncertain time, there is little reason to be worried about the impact of seeing your therapist online – here is why.
Should I stop my counselling sessions until the coronavirus pandemic is over?
Contagious and infectious diseases experts have given clear advice – we need to slow down the spread of coronavirus as quickly and effectively as we can. The most effective way to do that is for people who show signs of infection to self-isolate for 14 days.
As you will have seen on the news, countries have and will take different approaches. For example, many states have imposed a lockdown of all outdoor activity. On the other hand, South Korea focused on extensive testing and tracking of people’s movements. It has been effective in containing the virus for now.
The UK has not announced plans to carry out testing on any large scale, which therefore points to the need to cast a wider-net; we require a net that catches everyone. Social distancing has now become part of our daily language, and we are advised against large gatherings, socialising in pubs, bars and clubs as well as all but essential foreign travel. It is our duty as co-operative citizens to listen up and follow advice. The health of our nation depends on it.
How Pro-Social Principles are guiding our shift to online therapy
At Openforwards, we have committed to pro-social principles. Pro-social behaviours don’t just benefit the individual; they also help the wider community. Pro-Sociality adopts a multi-level perspective, which means that decisions are observed and taken not only on what seems important at this moment to you or I. It means we consider what benefits us, we and others now and in the future.
A recent video by Italian nationals validates this process all too well when they shared what they wish they’d known ten days sooner. If they had known what their behaviour would lead to in the future, they would have behaved very differently back then. This kind of perspective-taking can be incredibly powerful in motivating people to adapt their behaviour to embrace discomfort now for a better outcome later.
There is wisdom in keeping your distance from your therapist
There is wisdom too in your therapist keeping their distance from you also, but only physically. We do not want to increase isolation nor leave you feeling abandoned during your time of need. It doesn’t work either to completely cut ourselves off from the world around us, because this too can lead to ill health and premature death.
The solution, for now, is to meet remotely, online using video. You needn’t suspend or cancel your counselling for an indefinite period; it is not as though you weren’t struggling before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. You are deserving and worthy of connection, support and compassion – this is what we do, and this is how we are here for you.
Is it not safe to visit my therapist in-person if we are not ill?
Experts tell us that coronavirus is not like other forms of flu, because you could have had it for five days and not shown any symptoms. While you may not feel ill, you may be infectious. Given that only hospitals carry out testing, you cannot reliably know if you are contaminated.
Our cleaners are undertaking additional cleaning and giving extra attention to touch-points, such as door handles and exit buttons. However, it is not possible to ensure that our therapy rooms remain sterile. For example, people sit on the chairs and touch their arms, and we cannot clean fabric chairs to ensure they are germ-free.
At this point, we are following governmental information and expert advice by switching our in-person sessions to online therapy. We will continue to do this for the foreseeable future, and we will undertake a review at the appropriate opportunity.
We intend to open our physical doors again, hopefully soon. In the meantime, we will continue to undertake consultations and therapy sessions online.
Can we meet in-person when the coronavirus pandemic is over?
Absolutely. If you are meeting with your therapist for the first time online, then this can switch to meeting in-person at our Birmingham offices in the Jewellery Quarter. It is a temporary plan to keep us as safe and healthy as possible.
Humans are social beings, and we benefit from the connection and by being in closer proximity to each other. While some people prefer to work online, by telephone or instant messaging, we recognise that many, many others would like to meet in-person. Many therapists prefer that way of working too.
I don’t like using Skype, can we do telephone counselling?
We understand that there may be different reasons you would prefer to use the telephone instead of Skype. For example, you do not have a secure enough internet connection or access to a computer. On the other hand, you may not be familiar with using video, and you are worried that you won’t be able to get it working, or that you expect it to feel uncomfortable. For both these reasons, telephone counselling may be the better option.
However, with the loss of the ability to see each other, therapy may be less effective when using the telephone. If the barrier for you is a lack of confidence rather than technology, then we would encourage you to consider trying out Skype*. Similarly, we can assist you in getting started with the technology.
*Instead of Skype, Openforwards therapists prefer to use a video platform called ZOOM for its reliability and enhanced security.
Book an Online Counselling Consultation
Would you like to book an online consultation for therapy or speak to a therapist about counselling?
How do I access Online Counselling?
Your therapist will be in touch to let you know about meeting online for therapy. If you are attending your first appointment, then you will receive clear information by email advising you how to join a counselling session online.
Here is a brief video from ZOOM showing you what to do to access a meeting after you receive your invitation.