Things to Expect in Online Counseling
While counseling may not be a new experience, for many, online counseling services are. Your counselor will give you a link, and you go to the website and enter your name and then the system will put you in the waiting room. When the therapist is ready, he or she will click on your name and the session will begin. Note that the therapist may wear headphones so no one else near him or her can hear what you say. In addition, the website should be encrypted and HIPPA compliant to insure privacy. Furthermore, the session will never be recorded unless the therapist asks you to sign a form (for instance to train new therapists).
Another aspect of confidentiality is the space where you choose to sit for your session. You may want to go to another room where others cannot see, listen in, or get involved in the conversation. In addition, the ambient noise in your home, or choice of place to have your session, can make it hard to hear at times.
One thing that may vary from person to person and therapist to therapist is the connection speed. This depends on each side of the computer connection, and the usage levels at the time of the session. Sometimes, in some places, a phone connection may be better than the computer or i-pad connection.
When it comes to writing, your therapist may ask for your email to send you handouts related to your session. He or she may also hold something up to the screen for you to see. Please let the therapist know if you cannot see it. Things show up best pretty close to the camera and in good light.
If the connection is lost, see if you can go back to the waiting room. If you can see, but not hear, or vice versa, write a message in the chat (on the bottom right in doxy.me). Then the therapist can help you fix it. It is always good to check to see if the camera is on and the mute is off.
Online payment can be done a few ways. The easiest way, and most secure, is to give your credit card numbers over the online session. Then the therapist can choose to save the information, or not for your privacy. The therapist can mail you a receipt if you choose. One other way to pay the therapist is to mail a check to him or her. Paypal and Venmo are other potential options. Some websites even allow you to pay online.
Finally, be aware that the therapist cannot see you as well as in person (body language is harder to see.) If something you are talking about in session makes you uncomfortable, please tell him or her. It helps the therapist to understand you best, and make the best possible experience.