There are several considerations and options for working remotely in psychotherapy. Please read through the advice below so that you can prepare yourself for working remotely and together we can consider the best option available to you.
The remote psychotherapy setting:
The difference when working remotely as opposed to in person (face to face) is that the responsibility for creating a safe and confidential space for psychotherapy sessions is now shared with you. It requires some preparation on your part to ready yourself for being in a different ‘therapeutic’ space to that when used if browsing online or watching tv, or speaking to family and friends. Following are some guidance on how prepare for and make the most of your remote therapy sessions:
- Privacy is of paramount importance. Please find a private space where you can feel free to speak, without worrying about anyone listening or interruption. This includes telling others that you may currently be living with that you will be unavailable during your session time.
- Turn off all devices other than the one you are using for the video call and turn off all notifications. You should be able to utilise a ‘do not disturb’ option available on most computers and smart phones which can assist with this.
- Location. Where possible, please arrange for your sessions to take place in the same location each time.
- Endeavour to keep the setting as professional as possible. If you are in your bedroom, please try to sit on a chair rather than using the bed. If you are able, find somewhere to prop up your phone, iPad or computer, so that you are not holding it or resting your devise in your lap. Dress as you usually would for your session.
- Replicate as much as possible a meeting in person in the office; sit in a comfortable chair, rather than reclining or lying down.
- Do keep a box of tissues to hand and a glass of water if you want, but please don’t have hot drinks or eat or snack during your session.
- It is advisable to leave yourself a 10-15 minute space to clear your head and mentally prepare for your session rather than rushing in to it from another acticity. Similarly afterwards leave yourself time to reflect, process and absorb – it might help to take a walk outside by yourself before or after sessions and/or do some gentle stretching indoors.
Sessions by telephone can be preferable if you have an unreliable internet connection or find yourself without wifi. The protocol to be followed is that you call me at the arranged appointment time and I will answer your call at that time.
It you can it would be helpful if you could use headphones with a microphone to protect the confidentiality of the call as best as possible and to give the best sound quality for both of us. You use my mobile phone number provided but please do email me if you don’t have it. If you prefer to use a landline please let me know so we can make alternate arrangements. WhatsApp offers an encrypted platform so this can also be used for telephone sessions if preferred.
On-Line Web-based platforms:
I offer video appointments through Zoom, which has end-to-end encryption. You will need to download the software to support this application which is free of charge and available on the App Store for phones and iPads and for computers at https://zoom.us/download#client_4meeting For the best experience use Zoom on a computer. Before using Zoom for the first time, you should test your equipment at www.zoom.us/test/
Zoom is an encrypted remote platform and your session will only be open to you. Although there is a record function, please note it is not appropriate to record your psychotherapy sessions in any event.
I will send you an invitation to your Zoom session. It will be your responsibility to join the meeting on time (sessions will be 50 minutes long irrespective of what time you join). With Zoom, there is a virtual waiting room if you do log in a few minutes early. If there are difficulties with the connection we can always revert to using the telephone.
With Zoom, your image appears on the screen. For some people, this is off-putting and distracting, in which case you may want to opt for the telephone option. It is possible to minimise or hide the size of your image during the call (If you click on your image, then there is a drop down menu and you can select Hide Self View). Where possible, use headphones with a microphone to get the best quality sound and to protect your confidentiality.
Please make sure you regularly update your software and virus protection on whatever platform you choose to use.
I adhere to all the information governance requirements to protect your confidentiality and keep your data safe while working remotely. If I need to send you any sensitive correspondence other than an email confirming appointments, I will use password protection and then send the password by a separate email or will use Egress (a confidential, encrypted email system using by medical practitioners).