If you think online counseling could be helpful to you, consider the requirements below.
- You will need ready access to a computer connected to the Internet. Assuming you would like our communication to be private and confidential, that means your e-mail, texting, Skype, FaceTime, or other communication program is password protected and secure.
- If you’d like to have audio and video contact with one another, your computer or other device will need to must be configured with a microphone and webcam. Note that multimedia communication also requires a high speed connection on your end, such as DSL (a standard 56-K phone jack hookup is fine for e-mail but not for audio/video).
- You must have a virus protection program running and up-to-date (many people forget that new viruses develop every week, and updates are critical). This is so you don’t inadvertently get and pass along a virus to me, and vice-versa.
- You and I need to meet prior to agreeing to online counseling. In most cases this is no problem, since online therapy is used to continue the face-to-face counseling we have done in my office. If online counseling will be your primary mode however, I’ll need to have a meeting or two in my office (or your home, if my office is not an option) before we begin on the Internet.
- For “real time” (synchronous) sessions, you and I will need to set up appointments just like conventional office therapy. We can change them to suit your schedule of course, but each of us needs to commit time in our busy lives to “meeting” online. For e-mail exchanges (sequential, not synchronous or time-specific), no such scheduling is necessary and my responses will be sent no later than 24 hours after receipt.
- Real time sessions are usually set for the conventional 55-minute hour, but can be shortened to 25 minutes if it works better for you. [note: scheduling is not an issue when we agree to “meet” without an appointment time, using conventional e-mail]
- Honesty and openness are absolutely essential to online counseling -- even moreso than in face-to-face counseling. Your words are all I have to understand you. Defensive “minimizing” because of embarrassment or guilt cannot be detected, and will undermine any benefit of the counseling you have sought.