The Counsellor Will See You Now – Part One

Posted by: Dawn Schell on March 6, 2012 3:42 pm

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.”[1]  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.


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

0 comments on “The Counsellor Will See You Now – Part One”

  1. Wanda Green says:

    Dear Dawn,
    I did a course with Therapy Online several years ago. I was interested in offering counselling services via internet to people living in remote or rural areas who do not have access to professional services. After completing the course work I thought email sessions would be the best option. When I developed my website I decided to give clients the option of email, chat and video sessions. Now approximately 5 years later 95% of all my clients choose video sessions and Skype is the software I use. Most people are vary familiar with this software and if not it is very user friendly. I do a brief orientation session, have a service agreeement that outlines things like web camera placement, privacy, etc. and I have never had any problems. Most of my clients use to access my service because they lived in areas where they did not have options but now more and more people are using it because it is convenient, affords more privacy and because people are accustom to doing their business online. I glad to read your article and see that this service option is being more recognized.

    Wanda Green, MSW, RSW

  2. Dear Dawn Schell, MA, CCC,

    I sincerely appreciate your article. It has caused me to really consider “if”, “when”, and “why” one might consider using such technologies as Skype or WebEx. As a therapist, I will rarely consider having therapy with patients via the phone, but “if” I have met with the patient and I am going to be away, then I might consider such avenues.

    Again, I am sincerely intrigued and interested in learning more about the effect of such technologies, as well as, the efficacy in using them for long term therapy.

    Warm Regards,

    Dr. Asa Don Brown

    1. Hello Dr. Asa,

      “As a therapist, I will rarely consider having therapy with patients via the phone, but “if” I have met with the patient and I am going to be away, then I might consider such avenues.”

      I find your reply interesting. I see that you will utilize the telephone if you’re occupied, but how about the client. Would you not use the phone, skype, messenger, or webex if it benefits the client and the client is unable to meet? At our practice, many of our clients prefer web counselling and telephone counselling as it provides many benefits –the client’s time being one – that face to face counselling cannot.

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