Tag Archives: working in isolation

Reflections on Quickly – and Ethically – Moving Online

Posted by: Annelise Lyseng, M.Ed, CCC, R. Psych on May 29, 2020 9:04 am

Before March 2020, I had hoped to eventually take a course to learn more about online counselling in case I ventured into it at a future date. Little did I know that I would soon be plunged unceremoniously into telehealth thanks to the impacts of COVID-19. I am happy to report that it has been a fairly smooth transition, with special thanks to colleagues who researched digital counselling platforms and configured doxy.me and VPN access to our online records management for our team. Here are a few of my key takeaways from the transition to online counselling:

  • Ethics first: For our team, this meant carefully revising our informed consent documents, emergency planning protocols, and intake process. We had to consider the additional risks, particularly around security and privacy, connected to telehealth and communicate these effectively to our current and new clients. I completed several extensive online courses that clearly outlined the ethical and legal considerations of telehealth. This training was invaluable, and I felt more secure in my practice after thoroughly reviewing these unique ethics.
  • Find a community: Amidst the dubious benefits of working from home, such as sweatpants and fridge proximity, I struggled with being physically distanced from my vibrant and supportive team of colleagues. We continue to engage in regular virtual meetings, consultations, and ongoing group chats, which I deeply appreciate. One of the online courses also helped me connect with an online community devoted entirely to practicing online therapy – learning from others and sharing resources has helped immensely with improving confidence and decreasing isolation.
  • Save your sight: For me, this meant ensuring that I’m wearing my blue-light blocking prescription glasses, trying to follow the 20-20-20 rule (every 20 minutes, take 20 seconds to stare at something 20 feet away), calibrating the height of my laptop to find the right angle for looking thoughtfully at clients without straining my neck, and adjusting the lighting in my improvised home office to a comfortable level. I also activated the blue light filter on my laptops and other devices.
  • Reflect and appreciate the old, and new, office: As mentioned, I appreciate my colleagues even more now that we have been distanced. I miss other aspects of the old office – using experiential interventions in session such as a picture card sort task, having access to a large shredding unit for session notes, enjoying a comfortable and devoted counselling space without interruptions from a neighbour’s barking dog or an exuberant toddler, and in general delineating a clear boundary between work and home. However, I have also appreciated aspects of my new office, especially the lack of a commute through rush hour traffic, an ability to prep supper while I’m on my lunch break, and an opportunity to push myself and grow professionally. I am saddened at the circumstances that brought telehealth into my practice, but I am grateful for the privilege that I have in my work and the learning that this has brought into my personal and professional life.
Annelise Lyseng is a registered psychologist at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta.

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Do you Possess Enough Self-Worth to Run a Private Practice?

Posted by: Andrea Cashman on April 1, 2014 3:54 pm

I’ve had a few people ask me questions about running a private practice as they were contemplating opening their own. Of the counsellors that I’ve spoken to, it was made clear which ones had severe doubts in their abilities and which ones were self-assured and confident with making their entrepreneural move. I do not believe that this is a career choice for the faint of heart. Private practice can be very isolating at times. While the appeal to be your own boss and be creative as you wish to be, there is always the drawback of  isolation, stress and uncertainty popping up to make an appearance.

There are many stressors that private practice can bring. There is the stress of economic uncertainty. Building a practice will take time, perhaps years for you to make a decent income. Even once established, there will be ebbs and flows in your practice that you will need to consider and plan for. You may be working in isolation even if you are renting space in an office. You also have to consider working different hours which may include early morning appointments and evening appointments to make client hours available. You also have to consider that you have no cover when you are ill. Great self-care is essential to running your practice, not just physical care but emotional and mental care as well. Seeing a counsellor for your own issues is highly recommended to avoid any countertransference issues. I strongly recommend you have had at least one session as a client to see what it is like from a client’s perspective. Another thing to keep in mind about your practice is the expectation of client cancellations, no shows and drop outs. This is where supervision is beneficial to work on any doubts you have as a counsellor. There can be other stressors as well, for example, competition of other practitioners, marketing stress, adminstrative or environmental stressors etc.,

What stressors do you anticipate in your practice? Reflect on how you can deal with them and what you will need in doing so? Will social support, networking, personal counselling, research, supervision, time management help you with these stressors? Taking the time to reflect on your doubts and anticipated stress will make you feel better prepared to make the transition. I know how hard it can be; however, I think you need to be in a place in your life where you have the strength and stamina to open your business. If you feel your not ready at this current time, it doesn’t mean you will never be. It just means that you need to work on yourself first and there’s nothing wrong with that.


Andrea Cashman is a private practice counsellor who has founded Holistic Counselling Services for individual clients seeking therapy in Ottawa, ON. She also practices at the Ottawa Hospital as a registered nurse. Feel free to comment below or contact her at [email protected] or visit her website at www.holisticcounsellingservices.ca

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA