For those interested in phone counselling, this is old-school telephone counselling where I call you, you pick up, and our session starts. There is no corresponding video. Folks often comment that this is a very personal counselling experience, as there is not the distraction of a screen, and the focus can be solely on the therapeutic conversation.
Also known as online counselling, virtual counselling, telehealth, telementalhealth or teleconferencing, I use a secure, encrypted platform through Jane App, based out of North Vancouver. Unlike Skype, FaceTime, Zoom Basic, or other similar platforms, Jane App encrypts each video session, sessions are anonymous and further, they are never recorded or stored. Video counselling works well for folks who are not available for in-office visits but prefer the visual cues that come with video.
Phone and video counselling can work for a number of situations including:
At this time I am only able to provide phone counselling to residents of British Columbia, Ontario, the Yukon and Nunavut. This is due to the fact that social work is a highly regulated profession, and social work legislation currently varies from province to province and is province-specific. My social work registration (04462) is for British Columbia, and Ontario (#836337) and while I practice in BC, social work regulators govern according to the province that the client is in.
For safety reasons, and in the unlikely event of an emergency, please inform me of your specific location at the beginning of each session.
Counselling is available in English only from my downtown Vancouver and virtual offices, within the pacific standard time (PST) zone.
Rates for phone counselling are the same as my rates for in-person counselling and must be prepaid by PayPal or by an Interac e-transfer prior to your appointment time. Clients now also have the option of storing a credit card on file that can be used for payment at the end of the session. You incur no long-distance charges as long as you provide me with a Canadian telephone number. I call out to Canadian phone numbers only.
In the event that we become disconnected, I will call you back immediately at the number you have provided. Please ensure that your ringer is on. If there is a phone malfunction on either end and I am not able to reach you, please check your email for further instructions.
To maximize your counselling experience, please ensure that you have access to a quiet, private space with no distractions, where you can close the door. Being interrupted by others often interferes with people’s ability to open up in a session, is distracting, and compromises your confidentiality and privacy. Having a private space also ensures that others in your general space do not accidentally find themselves appearing in your session. For phone sessions, to protect your privacy and the privacy and sanctity of your counselling session, please do not put your call on speaker-phone, unless we discuss this option first, together.
For phone counselling, please ensure that you have phone service with good reception as dropped calls will have a detrimental effect on your session.
To participate in video counselling you will require a laptop or desktop computer with secure access to the Internet. If you are using an iPhone or an iPad, please download the Jane App for iOS. You will need an Internet speed of 15Mbps or higher. You can check your internet connection in advance at fast.com. If you’re seeing a number measured in Kbps, you will have the option to lower the quality, shut off the video or do a phone session. It’s also recommended that you close any other applications that you have running.
For your web browser, please use the latest version of Chrome. Please also ensure that your browser allows access to your microphone or webcam.
For best sound quality, and to enhance your privacy, earphones with a microphone are recommended for both phone and video counselling.
Turning off any devices not being used for your session also ensures you get the most out of telephone or online counselling, by minimizing distractions.
It is important to note that phone counselling lacks the visual cues that are particular to in-person sessions, increasing the possibility that both you and I may miss some non-verbal cues and communication. If you feel that this has happened, please bring this up with me right away.
While current counselling research has demonstrated that online therapy is effective, in video counselling you may note that communication, including eye contact, can feel different compared to an in-person session. Please let Megan know if you have any concerns.
Not everyone is a suitable candidate for phone counselling. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, psychosis, mania, are actively self-harming or are engaging in other behaviour that compromises your safety, I am not able to provide phone counselling. I am more than willing, however, to assist in directing you to in-person counselling alternatives or crisis counselling services. 1-800-SUICIDE is available to help all British Columbia residents, round the clock. All Canadians can call the Canada Suicide Prevention Service 24/7 at 1.833.456.4566.
In Summer 2019 Megan Sutherland completed Cybercounselling Level 1, a 12-week foundational certificate course for master’s-level therapists about the delivering safe and effective online counselling. This is a joint course offered through the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Social Work and Therapy Online, a Canadian-based company.