Skype and other forms of videoconferencing have been around for quite a while. As I periodically surf the internet I have noticed an ever-increasing number of counsellors list Skype as an alternate method of delivering counselling.
Why do so many counsellors use Skype as opposed to any other videoconferencing software? Hmmm, could it be because it’s free? And easy to use? But is it the best platform to use for every counselling situation? (see Brian Dosenberger’s Feb. 10, 2012 blog post “Choosing a Platform for Online Counselling”)
Some counsellors only use this technology as an adjunct with clients they have met face-to-face and others use it exclusively – only ever “meeting” their clients online. Which clients use it? Clients who have moved, are travelling, have caregiving responsibilities or disabilities that make it difficult to get to a counsellor’s office, live in areas where resources are limited and who prefer talk therapy to writing.
Whether you use Skype or WebEx or some other software there are technicalities that need to be worked out and ethical questions to be answered if we want to create the best possible therapeutic environment online.
On a practical technical level, when using videocounselling you need to consider: how tech ‘savvy you are, maybe having to teach a client how to download software, webcam angles (do I want to be just a talking head?), lighting, background, setting, eliminating potential distractions, audio and video quality, potential to lose audio and/or video completely, maintaining eye contact, presenting a professional appearance, to name a few.
Of course all these technical issues might make it seem as if you are constrained and can’t be creative. Not so! A counsellor who uses Skype suggests to clients they keep “paper, pencils, crayons, a couple of puppets, and some pillows ready. Even in Skype sessions, we can still incorporate art therapy, psychodrama using puppets, and movement work.” Most intriguing!
In my next blog post I will talk about ethics with respect to videocounselling.
Dawn Schell, MA, CCC is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc. http://www.therapyonline.ca
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA