The Counsellor Will “See” You Now – Again

Posted by: Dawn Schell on May 9, 2013 3:58 pm

Dan Mitchell and I did a webinar for the CCPA on the topic of videocounselling titled “To Skype or Not to Skype”.  Videocounselling has been a hot topic in some online mental health  LinkedIn groups in recent months.  I blogged about videocounselling last year around this time and have continued to pay attention to the wider discussions in our field.

Skype is perhaps the most commonly used venue for videocounselling and a number of concerns are regularly being raised about using it for counselling.  One of those concerns is Skype’s Terms of Use.  I’m not a lawyer but here’s what I read.

4.2 Restrictions. You may not and you agree not to:

(d) use the Software or cause the Software (or any part of it) to be used within or to provide commercial products or services to third parties. The foregoing shall not preclude you using the Software for your own business communications, subject to paragraph 4.1 above[1]

To me this sounds like –  don’t use it with third parties (clients) for commercial purposes (paid counselling).  

If you are interested in following some of the discussions on LinkedIn and learning more about the concerns others are raising check out the Online Therapy group.  There are excellent alternative videocounselling choices.  Just make a comment or email me directly and I will share that information with you.

For those who choose to use Skype in videocounselling a question that often comes up is the concern that a chat session in Skype stays on the computer.  I did some digging and found this simple tip.  It’s so simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before!  Set your Skype privacy settings to “No History”.  If you have an Apple – go to Preferences, then to Privacy and set the “save chat history” setting to Never.  Then ask your client to do the same on their end.  I picked that tip up from Judi Brosnan of Oxford Brookes University in the UK.  On their counselling website you will find a set of guidelines for clients on Skype’s instant messaging feature. [2]

There is research that shows the therapeutic alliance in videocounselling is similar to face-to-face counselling.  Clients are satisfied with their experience but is videocounselling clinically effective? An excellent question.  To which there are equally excellent answers.

The short answer is Yes.  Videocounselling has been shown to have positive clinical outcomes. If you would like to have more in-depth information the best place to find journal articles about videocounselling (and other online mental health modalities) is the research bibliography section of the International Society for Mental Health Online site.

And finally, the American Telemedicine Association has created a set of draft practice guidelines for video-based mental health services.  It is well written and very well thought out.  If you are considering using video as a modality in your counselling practice I highly recommend you read it.


Dawn M. Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc.


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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *