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Email Counselling

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Counselling by Email

What is email counselling?  Basically, we correspond by secure email. This works very well for most general issues.  Like most things it has advantages and disadvantages.   There is less chance of either of us missing or misunderstanding something because we can always re-read an email or ask a question about it.  Some people find writing is easier for them and they usually find they can be more open than if they were talking f2f.  It also means that you don’t have to wait for the next weekly f2f or Skype session.    There is a time delay but I will return an email to you within 48 hours.  Another advantage being you are able to refer back to it at any time whereas you can’t do that as accurately with remembering a conversation. It is not, in my opinion, the best option for dealing with addiction issues and therefore I prefer not to use this medium when counselling people with these issues as I often set tasks between sessions, whilst there are ways around it, I find they are easier to go through verbally.

Types of email counselling and how it works:

a)  Weekly/periodic emails:  Once we have agreed to work together via this medium and I have received your completed form and notification of payment, I will acknowledge these.  At that time I will ask you to send me details to my hushmail account (details of which I will let you have) of your secure email address (see “what is secure email below” i.e. if you have decided to create one at hushmail.com or whether you have another secure method.)  Then, when you are ready you send me your first counselling email which I will acknowledge receipt of and within 72hours I will send you your first counselling response.  Thereafter we will continue our counselling email contact through your secure email address.

Emails are usually sent weekly, usually on the same day each week until counselling ends. However I am flexible and we can agree the timing of these between ourselves.  Each counselling response will be numbered.

b)  One-off emails: Some people prefer to receive a ‘one-off’ email reply rather than negotiate an Agreement or pay for a package of emails.  This does not require an agreement to be made beforehand.  One-off emails are particularly suitable if your problem only affects a part of your life and you are looking for new ways to deal with it.  Please follow these steps if you want to use this route.

  1. Please contact me to express that you wish to enter into online email counselling and that you wish to subscribe to a ‘one off’ email.  Contact me on a secure email address (if you are unsure about how to obtain one, if you contact me I can talk you through the process before you send me any personal details).
  2. Write a description of your problem giving me a recent example if possible.  Then tell me how long it has been a problem and what you’ve tried to do about it so far (which hasn’t worked) (500 words maximum).
  3. Send it to me and make a card payment of £28.00 by pressing making a bank transfer (details will be given on contacting me).
  4. I will send you a 500 word reply (approx) within 72 hours of receiving your email and payment.

What is secure email?   This can either be by using your regular email but sending the counselling content in an attachment which we password protect; or

a) Opening an account at www.hushmail.com which is an encrypted eamil address; or

b) If you are pretty competent on the computer you can use a USB or mobile key drive.  How this would work is that you would download an internet browser (Firefox or internet explorer) onto a memory stick or other external devise, open an email account with say hotmail and therefore all the correspondence can be held securely off of a ‘public’ computer.

Which way you do it will depend on how confident and competent you feel you are with computers.

Technical Issues:  When dealing with technology, unfortunately anything can go wrong.  Although in my experience these times are very few.  However, if you were unable to get online you may wish to leave me a text or telephone message on 07563 210718 and I would do the same for you on the number you have provided.   In the event of email not being acknowledged by either party within 72 hours of sending it, we will agree to resend it.  If however you do not respond to my email within a further 3 weeks of sending it I will assume that you no longer wish to continue working with me.

Confidentiality:   Online sessions are bound by the same code of ethics as f2f counselling in that both parties agree to keep the details discussed within a session confidential.  As an ethical counsellor I do attend supervision in order that I can give the best possible service to you.  However this again is totally confidential and any details discussed would be anonymous.     I follow the Guidelines for Good Practice for my professional body for which I am member.  (See the Agreement for further details)  

Working online is a very secure medium, providing some basic issues are put into place before counselling starts.  For instance it is not desirable to use a shared or work computer.  However sometimes this may be unavoidable so if this is the case it is essential to take some of the precautions as outlined above i.e. by using a secure email account, keeping all information on a separate USB, preferably pass worded.   Consideration must also be given to the time and circumstances when you are making contact.  It is not desirable if you are likely to be overlooked or disturbed – so ideally a secure and quiet environment should be sought.

Security:  At the end of our email agreement a paper copy of the exchanges of emails will be stored securely offline for a period of 5 years in case you wish to return to counselling.  After that time they will be destroyed by secure shredding.  No electronic records will be stored after the end of counselling and in addition all files will be in pass worded files during our exchanges.

Agreement Form:  Before online counselling can begin, we agree when and how it will take place.  It is helpful that we agree our expectations about the timing of counselling communications because we have to trust each other to respond when expected.  We also need to have a back-up plan for a technology crash (the internet and computers are still not 100% effective all of the time) and other emergency situation.

Charges and How to pay:

One off email from me (of approx 500 words) – £28.00

One email (not prepaid) – 28.00

Or pre-paid package of emails (paid ahead in one payment):-

3 emails (£26.50 per email) – £79.50

5 emails (£25.00 per email ) – £125.00

At the initial consultation/enquiry we can discuss which we both feel is the most suitable and beneficial for you. You can pay by bank transfer (details provided when you have made contact)

3 email packages should be completed within one month

5 email packages should be completed within two months

Please note to gain maximum therapeutic benefit, we need to be in regular contact.

Please use the form to apply for online counselling.  Please do not put any details of the issues that you may wish to discuss on this form.  I will respond to you and send you a basic information form via a secure medium. But before we embark on any form of online therapy, you need to check our online agreement (as follows).

Why do we have to have an agreement?

Online counselling has the same issues as face to face (f2f) counselling such as the timing of contact, confidentiality, codes of ethics, emergency contacts, holidays etc.  It also has some additional ones like what happens in the case of technical difficulties, security on line, type of email exchanges, making payment etc.    Having an agreement makes it clear before we start not only of each other’s expectations and boundaries but provides you with the secure knowledge that, just like in a closed room, your communications are held securely and confidentially.   In this document however I have sought to minimise its length and have therefore referred to external links found on my website (www.justonesmallstep.uk.com) which are an integral part of this agreement and which you will need to read and agree before we undertake counselling. 

What is Online Counselling:

Online Counselling is a way of obtaining help from a professional counsellor without leaving your home.  Instead the counselling sessions take place online (over the internet). Face to face counselling works very well but sometimes people are not able or do not like to undertake this type of counselling for many varied reasons. (More information is found on the various links below).

I use Skype (www.skype.uk.com) for live sessions i.e. text, voice and voice/webcam or secure email such as hushmail (www.hushmail.com).  Both are free and easily downloaded from the internet.

a) Online counselling – reasons for, types of and the ‘how to’ (see link)
b) Email (see link)
c) Skype Text (see link)
d) Skype Voice (see link)
e) Skype/webcam (see link)

Online counselling cannot provide an emergency service for clients.

 

About me, the way I work and what I can help you with:

My name is Jean Watson and I am an integrative Counsellor and Psychotherapist.   This means that I do not subscribe to a “one size fits all” style of counselling but use approaches that best suit each of my clients.

Counselling provides you with a confidential opportunity to explore your thoughts and feelings in safety in order to assist your learning, healing, understanding and growth.    My role is to help you through this process without judgement or telling you what to do. I encourage my clients to be independent and to discover their own strengths.  I will help you also to have the knowledge and internal resources to achieve that.

The counselling process involves your commitment, your honesty both with yourself and myself and a genuine desire to change.  On my part I provide a genuine healing intent.  I provide commitment, honesty and utmost respect for yourself as an individual as well as my therapeutic skills.

I work with adults over 18 and whilst I am a general counsellor and can help you with most areas of your life, I also work closely with clients who have either have a problem with alcohol or gambling together with their families and friends.

Guidelines for Emergency Contact:

In the event of an emergency arising whilst you are engaged in online work, I would discuss with you the appropriate support that you could access during this period.

If you found yourself in a major crisis and were considering serious self harm it would be vital to get immediate help. This could include contacting your GP, or your nearest accident and emergency service (A & E).

You could also call the Samaritans on 0345909090 or email jo@samaritans.org.

Confidentiality:

Online sessions are bound by the same code of ethics as f2f counselling in that both parties agree to keep the details discussed within a session confidential.  As an ethical counsellor I do attend supervision in order that I can give the best possible service to you but any information discussed under supervision would be anonymous.    I follow the Guidelines for Good Practice for my professional body of which I am member.    

There are however an exception to this in line with ethical practice.  If, in exceptional circumstances  I felt that either you or someone else were in danger or at risk of harm, whilst I would first attempt to discuss with you the possibility of breaking confidentiality, if the risk was serious enough I may have to break confidentiality.

Ethical Standards:

I am a member of the BACP and the Counselling Society under whose ethical guidelines I work.   I am also a member of FDAP (Federation of Drug & Alcohol Practitioners) as well being a practicing hypnotherapist and member of the Hypnotherapy Society.  I am bound by their code of ethics, copies of which can be provided to you.   I take your individual boundaries seriously and seek to work in the most ethical way.

Sessions:

Online sessions last for 50 minutes, the timing of which will depend upon the type of online counselling you undertake and what we mutually agree in advance.   If for any reason I have to cancel a session I will aim to provide you with 48 hours notice.  Likewise I will expect you to give me 48 hours notice if you are unable to attend.  I reserve the right to charge for a missed session where no or insufficient notice is given.  If it is an emergency or a technical issue, we agree to make contact as per the terms set out under the specific type of online counselling that you are undertaking.

In addition you have a responsibility to attend online sessions without being highly intoxicated from either alcohol or substances.  I reserve the right to cancel or end sessions early should this become apparent.  I also reserve the right to charge a full rate for the session.    Where you are attending for alcohol or substance misuse as the primary issue, we will discuss together what is, or is not, acceptable use whilst in therapy sessions.

Costs:

Payment for sessions are payable in advance via bank transfer or Paypal and are set out on the links provided for the individual type of online counselling undertaken.

Number of Sessions / Ending Counselling:

When therapy is open-ended it is important that ending therapy is not sudden so we will regularly review progress to help determine the duration of our work together.

Record Keeping & Security:

All client materials are treated in complete confidence and are removed from my computer at the end of our work together.  Electronic records are stored on a password protected memory stick and kept in a locked filing cabinet.  No identifying names or material is retained on these records as client ID initials are used to replace such information.

It is not permissible to publicise the content of our exchanges or share them with a third party.

Insurance:

I hold both public liability and professional indemnity insurance.

Complaints:

Should you wish to make a complaint about the service you have been offered please contact my professional bodies under whose conditions and ethics I work.   A list of these will be provided on request.

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If there is anything you are not sure about, please just ask but if you are happy to proceed with online counselling, please complete the following information below and return the agreement to me by email having first completed some basic information regarding yourself and some brief details of the issues you would like to explore in counselling .

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