I’m a therapist who does a lot of online counselling these days but I will admit, at first, I didn’t buy into it.
I doubted that the person sitting on the other side of the computer could come to trust me or feel my genuine desire to support them throughout our sessions. I also doubted it would be possible for me to sense their mood or energy. I assumed doing counselling online would impede the quality of my work. I actually doubted that online counselling could be effective at all. Yes, you read that correctly.
Good thing I decided I had to try it before I made up my mind. I worried it could have been a disaster, but that didn’t stop me.
Now, I’m taking it upon myself to bust 3 big misconceptions about online counselling!
It took a grand total of 3.5 seconds for this misconception to be discredited for me. When someone goes through life carrying their pain (often times alone), and decides to see someone virtually, they are taking a leap of faith to offload some of their deepest emotions and fears to their counsellor. Whether a session is in person, by phone, or online, the moment someone shows up is the culmination of a lot of inner work. That person is willing and ready to trust.
It took about 20 minutes before I threw this doubt out the window. It was my first virtual counselling session. I began as I always do, I asked, “how are you feeling today?” This Is often met by a long explanation of past and present situations with a lot of raw emotion. Then there is that first pause. It’s my -the counsellor’s turn- to respond. And guess who decided to show up that day? The same counsellor I have always been. What I had to offer and what I could offer didn’t change because the session was online. I could understand and, most importantly, feel what the person sitting in front of me, behind a computer screen, was sharing. By virtue of showing up, I was ready to be trusted and to give the same compassionate care I always have.
I had to have a few sessions with a client before I could rule this one out. But sure enough, session to session, I could recognize that the emotional work was being done, that it continued to deepen, and that the counselling wasn’t impacted by the lack of ‘physical’ presence. I realized that virtual counselling was an opportunity to reach and support more people.
Today I have no doubts that virtual counselling is an opportunity for people with competing demands and difficult schedules to prioritize themselves and their own needs.
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