Online Counselling

Hi, I'm Christine, Welcome to my Online and Telephone Counselling Site!

You may have come to this site for a variety of different reasons, you may have been looking for a counsellor for some time, or you may even have given counselling a try in the past. Perhaps you are finding yourself at a particularly difficult stage in your life, or maybe you want to resolve some underlying issues that have been troubling you for some time. You may simply want to improve your life, become more effective at managing your time or communicating with others. Or, perhaps you are intrigued by a dream you had or you want to find out a little more about what is going on deep inside your mind. You may have been suffering from a condition like depression or panic attacks. Or you may need some time and space to think things through...

Whatever your reasons for coming here, I would like to work with you to help you achieve your goals and address any concerns you might have.

New clients:   
  
If you are new to online or telephone counselling, please start here:

Please  have a look at the information provided here and in the FAQ section below. Once you have decided that you would like to go ahead with either telephone or online counselling, please contact me via the link below, giving a brief overview (between 100 and 300 words approximately) of your reasons for seeking counselling, and I will get back to you within the next 24 hours.

 
Existing clients:   
  
   If you have worked with me before, please go straight through to booking:



About your therapist:
I am a registered Clinical Psychologist, as well as a fully qualified counsellor and psychotherapist with additional qualifications in online and telephone work. I am registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), the United Kingdom Register of Counsellors / Psychotherapists (UKRCP) and am a senior accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP). I am also a member of the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO). All of my work is carried out in accordance with the BACP's Ethical Framework. In addition to this, my online work is carried out in accordance with the BACP's Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy, as well as the Code of Ethics drawn up by ACTO.
I am also a BACP senior accredited supervisor. If you are interested in online supervision, you can still find out how I work online by reading through the information below. In addition to that you can find my supervision offer by clicking here.

How online counselling works:
There are several options available to you, all of which are explained below. You can choose between counselling via encrypted email, secure instant messaging, or secure video conferencing. If you live in the UK you also have the additional option of telephone counselling.

Email counselling:
If you choose to opt for email counselling, we will agree on a set appointment time when I will respond to your email. You can of course still write your part of the email at a time that's most convenient to you, just make sure that you send it to me no later than at the start of our agreed appointment time. Rather than sticking to a specific word limit, I would suggest that you spend 50 minutes writing your email. This way we can ensure that our email exchanges mimic the process face to face counselling as much as possible. I will in return spend 50 minutes on reading your email and composing my reply to you. In order to ensure that our email exchanges remain completely confidential, you will have to send your messages via ProtonMail. This is a fully encrypted secure web-mail service that is available free of charge at https://protonmail.com  Setting up a free ProtonMail account is very easy and only takes a few minutes. Please note that exchanging our counselling emails via an encrypted service is a mandatory step in order to comply with the BACP's guidelines for online counselling. Once you are ready to begin, click on the "New client enquiry" button above to send me an initial message. You can give as much or as little information as you would like in that first message, and in fact it is probably best not to go into too much detail at this stage. I would suggest that you keep your initial enquiry message somewhere between 100 and 300 words, so you won't have to repeat yourself once your therapy starts. I will then email you our counselling agreement, which you will need to complete and sign before we book in our first appointment.

Secure instant messaging:
With this option we agree on a fixed 50 minute appointment slot, during which we will talk to each other via a free instant text messaging service, just like in an online chat session. The platform we use for this is a securely encrypted telemedicine service (VSee). For this option you will need to download and install VSee onto your computer, if you haven't already done so. VSee is available free of charge here and download and set up are easy. Once you are ready to begin, simply click on the "New client enquiry" button above to send me an initial message. You can give as much or as little information as you would like in that first message, and in fact it is probably best not to go into too much detail at this stage. I would suggest that you keep your initial enquiry message somewhere between 100 and 300 words, so you won't have to repeat yourself once your therapy starts. I will then email you our counselling agreement, which you will need to complete and sign before we book in our first appointment.

Counselling via secure video conference:
This option is probably most like face to face counselling. If you choose this option we will also agree a fixed 50 minute appointment slot, during which we meet via a secure video conference service (VSee). VSee is a a securely encrypted telemedicine service that is available free of charge here its download and set up are easy. Once you are ready to begin, simply click on the "New client enquiry" button above to send me an initial message. You can give as much or as little information as you would like in that first message, and in fact it is probably best not to go into too much detail at this stage. I would suggest that you keep your initial enquiry message somewhere between 100 and 300 words, so you won't have to repeat yourself once your therapy starts. I will then email you our counselling agreement, which you will need to complete and sign before we book in our first appointment.

Telephone counselling:
If you live in the UK, you have the additional option of telephone counselling. If you would like to choose this option, you will need to provide me with a UK land-line telephone number where I can call you at our fixed appointment time. In order to book a telephone counselling appointment, please click on the "New client enquiry" button above to send me an initial message. You can give as much or as little information as you would like in that first message, and in fact it is probably best not to go into too much detail at this stage. I would suggest that you keep your initial enquiry message somewhere between 100 and 300 words, so you won't have to repeat yourself once your therapy starts. I will then email you our counselling agreement, which you will need to complete and sign before we book in our first appointment.

Face to face counselling and psychotherapy in Cambridge:
If you live in Cambridge, UK and you would rather see me face to face, you can book an appointment to see me at my clinic on Cowley Road, CB4 0WS. For more information on my practice work, please click here or to book an appointment click here.

What to do in a crisis:
I am often able to offer appointments at short notice, but please note that this site runs on an appointment based system and does not offer any emergency support. This is because I cannot guarantee that I am online or available on the telephone at the exact moment when you might be trying to contact me. If you do find yourself in a crisis and feel that you need to speak to somebody urgently, please contact the Samaritans. For immediate support you can telephone the Samaritans within the UK at any time on 08457 90 90 90 or you can email them by writing to jo@samaritans.org. At the time of writing, their website states that they will do their best to respond to your email within 12 hours. You might also want to consider talking to your GP or other health care professional. In an emergency please contact the appropriate emergency service.

Below you will find an FAQ section with some more information on Online Counselling:

What is online counselling?

Online counselling provides an opportunity to explore a personal difficulty in a confidential and supportive environment, very much in the way that face to face counselling does. This process may include expressing feelings that are painful, and which many of us experience at certain times in our lives. When this happens, it can be difficult to stay positive and cope with everyday life, yet at the same time you may not find yourself in a position to go and visit a counsellor in his or her practice. This is where online counselling can give you the opportunity to access counselling support at a time and in a place that is convenient to you.

Can any counsellor provide therapy online? 

In order to provide counselling or psychotherapy online, therapists should hold further appropriate qualifications, in addition to their standard professional qualifications, especially if they state that they work in accordance with the BACP's Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy or ACTO's Code of Ethics. The following is a short extract from the BACP's guidelines to illustrate this: "Online practice as a specialism: Online provision is a specialist area, requiring a level of competence at least as high as that for face-to-face work. Competence as a therapist in one medium does not necessarily translate into another medium..."

How do I know if a therapist is suitably qualified to work online?

Unfortunately, there are many practitioners out there who think that having qualified as a psychotherapist or having accumulated years of professional experience automatically qualifies them to provide therapy online or over the telephone. Both areas are a specialist field that require additional training and experience, since the dynamics of online and telephone work are quite different to those in the counselling room. If you are at all unsure whether a therapist is appropriately qualified to work online, check the information they provide on their website first. Remember that they should state that they hold "additional qualifications" for online work on top of their regular professional qualifications. If they simply state that they are a "qualified counsellor/psychotherapist with years of experience in x....." that's not enough. Ideally they should also state which governing professional body they belong to and which ethical framework they adhere to. Remember that even the BACP has a specialist framework for online work in addition to their standard ethical framework. If you were unable to find this information on their website, you could contact them and ask them directly. If they hold the necessary qualifications and adhere to the relevant ethical guidance, they won't mind answering your questions.

What sort of issues can I contact you about?

You may contact me online with any of the issues that you would bring to a face to face counselling session, as online counselling may be able to help with a wide range of issues. Some clients seek online counselling in order to work through a very specific issue, whilst others are looking for a means to cope with life's challenges, like bereavement, work stress, separation or emotional trauma.  Yet others seek online counselling as a way of improving oneself and gaining greater stability and emotional well being. Please be aware though that not all types of issues can be resolved through online counselling and I will advise you if face to face counselling, or some other form of support might be more suitable for you. Where I consider that online counselling would not be the most suitable means of support I will make every effort to assist you in a referral to a suitable alternative source of support.

When is online counselling not suitable?

Online counselling is not suitable for clients who find themselves in an acute crisis situation. In this case you should always contact the appropriate emergency services first; these may include A&E, your GP or the Samaritans.

Furthermore, online counselling is not suitable for clients who are suffering from psychiatric disorders and/or are experiencing psychotic episodes, including hallucinations, delusions, or feelings of derealisation.

Online counselling is not suitable if you need intense support, such as ongoing telephone support or hospitalisation.

Also, online counselling is not suitable if you need a medical diagnosis or a prescription.

Please note also that I am not able to provide online counselling to any person who is under the age of 18. If this applies to you, I may be able to refer you to other agencies that provide face to face counselling services or online work which is specifically directed to a younger age group.

How will I know if online counselling is suitable for me?

If you have read through the relevant sections on this site and are still not sure whether online counselling would be suitable for you or not, you may send me a short overview of the reasons why you are considering online counselling by clicking on this link. If you do so, please remember to keep this overview short; you should aim to write no more than 300 words. This is so to avoid you having to go over too much information before we have actually formally agreed to commence online counselling.

Can you provide the same service online that you would in person?

I will provide, to the best of my ability, online counselling opportunities that endeavour to create a supportive, non-judgmental environment in which you will be given time and space to understand and gain insight into your situation. Just like in face to face counselling, this process can foster growth and lead to positive change in your life. There may be occasions where I ask questions about what you have written to me. This may be to seek a clearer view of your difficulty or to clarify a misunderstanding in our communication. You are free to ignore my questions and responses, or alternatively spend time between email exchanges reflecting on them. Online counselling is different to face to face work as misunderstandings may occur due to a lack of facial expressions and tone of voice. We should agree to think the best of each other and then try to express how we are feeling. In the event of a misunderstanding arising for either party, it is advisable that we seek to clarify the cause of a miscommunication.

What will I need before I can start online counselling?

In accordance with BACP guidelines for online counselling, if you choose to use email for your counselling appointments I will request that you set up a free Hushmail email account. This is a fully encrypted, secure facility that is available free of charge at www.hushmail.com. Setting up a free Hushmail account is easy and only takes a few minutes. If you choose to use secure messaging or video conferencing for your counselling appointments, you will need to download and install VSee onto your computer. VSee is a securely encrypted telemedicine platform that is available free of charge to clients. Download and set up are easy and you can get VSee for free here.

How much will it cost?

There is a discount for pre-paid block bookings and depending on how many sessions you commit to, prices start from £40.00 per session for email or text counselling, £50 for video and telephone counselling, and £86.00 for online CBT sessions. You can find a full list of all the different available rates listed here.

How do I receive free online counselling if I have BUPA health insurance?

If you have BUPA health insurance cover, you may be eligible for free online counselling sessions. Please contact your insurance provider in the first instance. You will then need to provide us with your date of birth, BUPA membership number and a pre-authorisation number

Why don't you offer counselling via Skype or Facetime?

In order to comply with ethical recommendations and professional guidelines, we need to make sure that online counselling is secure and confidential. Neither Skype nor Facetime offer a secure and confidential service that would be suitable for online therapy work. Instead we use an encrypted telemedicine platform that is available for free to our clients.

If my GP’s address is not a mandatory requirement, why do you ask for it?

It is possible that during our counselling relationship you might ask me to contact your GP. Most people don’t have their GP’s details to hand immediately, and if you provide me with those details in advance, it will make it easier to establish contact, should the need for it arise. I will never contact your GP without your expressed prior consent.

Why do you ask for my gender if you already know my name? 

Not all names indicate a person’s gender clearly. Think for example of names like Pat, Sam, or Chris.

What is supervision and why do you need it if you say you are fully qualified?

In my Online Counselling Agreement I state that:

 Just as in face to face counselling, the content of our sessions, whether they are via email, Skype messaging or Skype video conferencing or telephone will not be communicated to any third party except for the purposes of professional supervision of my work. In this instance any case work is being discussed anonymously and your identity will not be revealed.”

This is because every professional counsellor who works in accordance with the BACP’s Ethical Framework for Counsellors needs to have regular sessions with a supervisor. The purpose of these sessions is to ensure that the counsellor is providing his or her clients with the best possible service. When counsellors talk to their supervisors they should never reveal their client’s actual identity or anything else that might inadvertently identify the client, such as their place of work for example, instead counsellors should present any case work in an anonymised form and refer to it in general terms only.

What is the difference between counselling and psychotherapy?

This website uses the terms counselling, psychotherapy, and therapy interchangeably. This is because to date the definition of these  terms haven't actually been protected in the UK. (This makes it all the more important to check that your therapist has all the necessary and relevant qualifications!)

What do BACP, MBACP, UKRCP, HCPC, ACTO and DBS mean?

BACP is the acronym for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. It is a governing body that sets the standards for good practice in counselling and psychotherapy. Where counsellors have the letters MBACP listed behind their names, it simply means that they are full members of the BACP and that their work is in accordance with the BACP’s ethical framework.Therapists who are accredited may use the letters MBACP (Accred), if they wish.

UKRCP stands for United Kingdom Register of Counsellors / Psychotherapists. As its name suggests, the UKRCP is a register for therapists who have been accredited by one of a group of specific professional bodies (These are Counselling & Psychotherapy in Scotland (COSCA), the United Kingdom Association for Humanistic Psychology Practitioners (UKAHPP) and The Federation of Drug & Alcohol Professionals (FDAP)). Inclusion within the register is voluntary for practitioners. 

HCPC is the acronym for the Health and Care Professions Council, which regulates a range of professions, including Clinical Psychologists, for whom registration is mandatory.

ACTO stands for the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online. It is a professional association for therapists who hold additional qualifications in online practise. ACTO's stated aims are to "promote, improve and advance online counselling and therapy."

DBS stands for Disclosure and Barring Service. It is the new name of the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). Therapists working with children and/or vulnerable adults need enhanced DBS checks in order to show that they do not have any convictions that would bar them from working with these groups.


What can I do if my question hasn't been answered here?
If you haven't been able to find the answer to your question, you can email Christine by clicking here.