Absence of verbal and nonverbal cues
You may find that working without verbal and visual interaction feels strange.
There is more opportunity for misunderstandings to occur online.
You may experience additional difficulties if English is not your first language.
Confidentiality and security
You will need to take more responsibility for your online confidentiality.
The security of records and information could be jeopardised and confidentiality is at greater risk of being inappropriately breached.
You need to have a certain level of competence with technology.
For technical reasons you could experience a delay in response which can leave you wondering what is going on.
Sometimes technology breaks down, which can be frustrating.
You should ask for details on what qualification the counsellor has, and whether they are members of a professional body such as:
- The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
- The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy
- The Association for Counselling and Therapy Online
- The British Psychoanalytical Council
- The British Psychological Society
In order to provide counselling or psychotherapy online, counsellors should hold further appropriate qualifications in addition to their standard professional qualifications, especially if they state that they work in accordance with the BACP’s Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy or ACTO’s Code of Ethics. ” Online provision is a specialist area, requiring a level of competence at least as high as that for face-to-face work.” (BACP’s guidelines)
Online counselling is not suitable:
- If you are in crisis/have an emergency, or are feeling suicidal.
- If you experience severe or long-term mental health problems.
- If you are suffering from a psychiatric disorder and/or experiencing psychotic episodes such as hallucinations, paranoia or delusions.
- If you engage in potentially risky behaviour, e.g. heavy alcohol or drug use.