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Online & Telehealth

Taking your counselling journey online or on the telephone has increased in popularity since the COVID-19 epidemic. Did you know that there were remote services available prior to COVID-19 and there continues to be a rich and growing research body supporting these methods of service delivery?

Online or telephone based counselling may not be for everyone but it does open up opportunities for those that might not have had service options to now have services tailored to their needs.

 

Read below to look at suggestions to set up your space (or take your space outside) as well as other considerations for virtual and telehealth therapy.

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Setting Up Your Space for Online or Telehealth Counselling

 

Here are 5 things that might be helpful to consider before your virtual session.

1. Allow yourself time for updates or other computer concerns before your session

Sometimes we wait until the last minute to log into our appointments and then are frustrated when our computer starts an update that is 50 minutes instead of 5 minutes. This happens! You might be able to start your computer earlier in the day prior to your session to ensure that all updates have been installed and it is ready to go come the time of the session. If an update delay does happen you can email or call your counsellor from another one of your devices if possible, or reach out when you can to let your counsellor know the situation so that you both can plan from there.

 

2. Try logging into the JaneApp prior to your first session

The JaneApp will send you a reminder email prior to your booking - whether it is an in-person option you choose or a virtual. If it is a virtual option it will run you through how to test out JaneApp prior to the session. Feel free to do this to ensure that the app is functioning in your browser and you know how to navigate it. After the first session, it will be a breeze for you to log in and know what to expect! Testing it out before hand will minimize some of the stress during the first session of navigating this app if it is new to you. Why not reduce stress where you can so that you can get down to the work that you want to do in session!

3. Have your camera and audio set up ready

When using a camera have it at eye level and showing your entire head and most of your upper body.  This will help for both of us in reading each other's body language to get fuller visual cues (especially when sometimes verbal language can be difficult for expression). This also helps when doing somatic (body) work to be able to see on camera where you are experiencing sensations while talking about emotionally charged material.

Sometimes the audio on your laptop or computer will be sufficient but I would suggest having a set of ear buds or ear phones that you are able to use with your computer nearby in case the standard audio is insufficient. Sometimes using the computer speakers is not enough and it can be difficult to hear but when you plug in (or pair up if using Bluetooth) ear buds or ear phones the audio will increase dramatically.

 

4. Ensure privacy for your session

Privacy for your session is just as important for virtual or telehealth space as it is if you were to attend an office session. It can be hard to discuss what matters to you authentically if you are whispering at work, or trying to parent at the same time. This makes it hard to go to the vulnerable places that we need to go to because we already have one foot out the door dealing with other concerns. Ensure that you have a private space for you - this might be in a room with a closed door, sometimes it is the garage or maybe it is on your couch if you work at home by yourself. Ensure you have the privacy in order to be most effective with the time that you are dedicating to yourself during your counselling sessions.  

 

5. Make your environment a counselling safe space

You have a private space and your computer is all ready - now lets make this your special counselling time for you! What do you need in your space to turn it into a therapeutic space?

Do you have water, tea and/or coffee?

Do have tissues available?

Do you need access to a blanket or throw?

Do you need an object to fidget with or help with your attention?

Do you need a different comfort object?

Are you wanting to doodle, draw or paint during session - do you have easy access to supplies?

Do you want to light a candle or use a diffuser as a routine to initiate your you time?

Is there a ritual you want to have at the end of your counselling session? - this could be a hot beverage time, going for a 5-10 minute walk or something else that helps you shift from inner work back to your everyday schedule.

You know what comforts you and lifts you up. Ensure that you have the space ready for you to make it easier for the hard work that is to come, because counselling is hard work. Being honest, authentic and ultimately vulnerable is hard work in an emotional and somatic sense AND it also incredibly therapeutic and healing.  I hope you create the perfect space for you!

Telehealth - Take it Outside

The above works well for creating both a telehealth and virtual counselling space. With telehealth though you do not need to be concerned with signing into JaneApp or setting up a camera since it will be a phone call. You will receive a phone call at the start of your session time from your counsellor. You can take this call in the private therapeutic space that you create indoors or you are welcome to take your call outdoors as well. If you have a lovely private spot on your property or a nearby trail that has good reception then utilize it. Being in nature has many benefits if it is a good fit for you - read more about nature-based therapy here.

What if your session has poor connection or reception

This occasionally happens with any internet or phone providers. It may be due to server maintenance or nearby wind damage or anything between! If you are having a virtual session then try logging back in. If you do not log back in with in a couple minutes then have a back up plan as to what number your counsellor can call you at to resume the session via phone or make arrangements to finish the session at a later time. If your phone is not working, that is okay too. Email or call your counsellor when your reception and internet services are operational again and make a plan with your counsellor on how to proceed.

Have an Emergency Contact and Address on File

With an in-person session if an emergency arises then your counsellor can work with you to find the support that you need. This might mean calling an ambulance or other emergency support service. If you need to access a crisis support line in session it is possible with both virtual and telehealth to call together either through the phone while virtual or through conference calling if a telehealth appointment. If a medical or other emergency does come up during session it is useful to have an emergency contact and current address so that your counsellor can send the aid that you need to your house. A medical emergency may include a fall or allergic reaction where you need in-person assistance. If you have any concerns regarding this, please contact your counsellor to discuss further.

JaneApp and Privacy

It is important to know that the service that you use for virtual counselling is private and meets standard regulations. In British Columbia the regulations that are need to be meet are called either the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) or the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA; if counselling is being offered in public sector organizations).  JaneApp meets these requirements.

What about HIPPA you might be thinking? HIPPA is the privacy requirement that is used in the USA. Not only do we not use HIPPA in British Columbia, but both PIPEDA and PIPA are actually safer and held to a higher security standard. You can read more about the privacy offered through JaneApp here.

Payment and Privacy

To meet both PIPEDA and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) that we use in British Columbia for safe and secure online payments you will be using JaneApp for payments. The JaneApp payment system meets these privacy and security standards. You can read more about it here and here.

If you have concerns about how to set up your virtual or telehealth counselling space then please reach out to your counsellor to collaborate and troubleshoot with them.

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