I will be returning to in-person counselling from 17th May. My office is based on a farm, just outside of Cobham, in Surrey. It's a comfortable and discrete environment, designed specifically to offer a therapeutic space. I love being in there - it feels so peaceful - and many others feel the same. There is plenty of space to ensure social distancing at all times and plenty of windows to keep the room well ventilated.. I leave enough time between sessions so that each client can be assured that the room has been thoroughly cleaned. There is ample off-road parking, as well as toilet facilities.
As we move forwards, beyond Covid-19, I will continue to offer remote counselling. This means that should things change - if one of us needs to self-isolate, or if there are further lockdowns - we can easily switch to online or telephone counselling. It also means that I can offer therapy to people who live further afield, or who may not otherwise be able to travel to the office.
Zoom is a way for you to see me face-to-face from your computer or phone whilst engaging in therapy. I can guide you through setting up your own encrypted Zoom account and will send details for your appointment at the time we have arranged. You will enter a ‘waiting room’, where I can then welcome you in. This gives you the autonomy of choosing to attend a session. One of the benefits of online counselling over telephone counselling is that we will be able to see each other’s nonverbal communications.
This is similar to online counselling, but without the visual aspects. You may want to consider whether you would like to call me, or for me to call you. There are both advantages and disadvantages to not being able to see each other. Telephone counselling provides you with a level of anonymity and there will be no fear of accidentally meeting each other outside of our sessions. This may help you to be more open during our work. Nonverbal communication will be more difficult to interpret and we will both need to be mindful that it may take a little while to attune to one another.
For both online or telephone counselling you will need a private space where you will not be overheard. It is important for you to feel that you are safe and able to speak freely. Online and telephone counselling can have significant advantages over the more traditional face-to-face therapy – there will be more flexibility to find a regular time that suits you when you do not need to travel to my office. There is a level of privacy afforded by working online or by phone: no one will see you coming to my practice. You have the choice of how we communicate - either by Zoom or phone. Of course, if we find that something isn’t working, we can always look at finding a different approach.
It is also important to be aware of some other factors that may affect the therapy, or your feelings towards it. How comfortable are you with using technology? How will it feel not seeing me face-to-face? Might you feel hesitant to share thoughts and feelings with someone you can’t see, or could there be a temptation to overshare? We will have the opportunity to talk about all of these things and work out the best way forward for you.