Online counselling / therapy can offer therapeutic support in a convenient way for clients who may have mobility issues or may be house bound, or who may be time-wise or geographically restricted. I only offer online therapy to clients who are resident in Ireland and will establish your whereabouts at the beginning of each session, in the case of an emergency.
Clients need to ensure that their personal safety is not jeopardised by engaging in online counselling. If you feel that people in your immediate environment may not support this or may intrude on your privacy, you may need to consider doing online counselling in a safer environment.
Online therapy is not suitable for clients who are in immediate crisis as I am not in a position to respond directly in a crisis situation. It is important for you to have access to a local support in the event of an emergency. For this reason I will make an arrangement with you prior to undertaking this work, for you to have made an arragement with a family memeber/other responsible adult/GP to receive support if the need arises. I will need their contact details for our work to resume. If you are in crisis the Samaritans can offer immediate support or call 999.
Some of the limitations around online therapy include concerns around confidentiality, privacy and unreliable technology. As a psychotherapist providing counselling via technology I have a legal duty to comply with the Data Protection Act, and an ethical responsibility to safeguard clients from unauthorised disclosure of information. It is for this reason I do not use Skype, but use the secure platform of Wire instead. You will need a good internet connection for online therapy to be effective. If a technology breakdown occurs I will try to reconnect after 5-10 mins. In cases where re-connection is not possible, I will call you to reschedule the session.
Wire uses end-to-end encryption and is protected by European privacy laws, which provides a high level of security with its use. Due to the evolving nature of the internet and risks of hacking/viruses or breakdowns in technology, there are limitations to its reliability and safety which you need to be aware of and I will need your informed consent to its use. It is highly inadvisable for you to put sensitive personal data in emails or texts, and I would strongly discourage you from doing so as a way of protecting your personal and sensitive data.
Firewalls and anti-virus protection should be installed to ensure that neither your software nor hardware is accessible to third parties or viruses. You can install anti-virus protection such McAfee or Norton for extra protection if you need to. If you share your computer with others, consider setting up a seperate user account with a password to secure if you don't already have one and password protect your documents as a way of increasing your security and confidentiality. Doing so can also enhance confidentiality and security.
Client Confidentiality - Ethical Confidentiality
Counselling and psychotherapy offer a safe, non-judgmental and confidential environment. Nevertheless, all therapists are required by law to break this confidentiality if we feel our clients are in danger of hurting themselves or someone else, or express intent to gravely break the law.
Should you be in need of emergency support during our work, I will always explore this with you first, request your permission to contact your GP and/or support you in doing so yourself, with a view to recommending alternative forms of support to online counselling to ensure the best level of care for your needs.
Online counseling is not suited if you have an enduring mental illness or are experiencing extreme distress. As I do not access my emails in the middle of the night, it is imperative that you contact one of the emergency contact numbers provided if you are feeling in acute distress during such times.
Practical Confidentiality and Security
None of our exchanges nor any of your identifying information will be circulated to any third parties. From time to time I may take some of the content from our exchanges to supervision but your identity will be kept confidential at all times. Supervision ensures that I work to the best of my ability and within the code of ethics I abide to. It is a requirement of all counselling and psychotherapy governing bodies to ensure best practice.
It is equally important for you to ensure that the environment you work and live in allows you the physical and emotional safety and privacy to express yourself freely and safely, for a beneficial online counselling exchange.
Confidentiality can be broken by me if it becomes apparent that there is a risk of harm to you or others, or where I have a legal duty of disclosure (See my Confidentiality Policy and Mandatory Reporting Obligations).
I am offering therapeutic support only in the areas in which I have professional experience and training (see practice areas). I have done additional training in Telemental Health Ethical, Legal, Clinical, Technological and Practice Considerations
To get further information or to make a first appointment, contact me here.