When face-to-face counselling is not an option or, does not appeal as an option, phone and video counselling can be viable alternatives.

Phone Counselling

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.

Video Counselling

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.

Want to request an appointment?
Fill out my interest form to get started.

Who Benefits Most From Phone and Video Counselling?

Phone and video counselling can work for a number of situations including:

Small Town Concerns

  • You live in a small or remote community with no or limited access to face-to-face counselling
  • You live in a small town where you know many people, including the local counsellor
  • You live in a small town and value your privacy
  • You do not have the money to travel to another community to receive counselling

Depression or Anxiety-Related Concerns

  • In-person contact with a counsellor feels too emotionally intense
  • Leaving your home is currently overwhelming, or you worry that you will have a panic attack when you’re out
  • Commuting or being in an unfamiliar environment is very stressful
  • You feel a greater sense of control over the phone and opening up is easier
  • You find you can concentrate better over the phone
  • You have a heightened sense of shame or stigma about receiving counselling or the issues you are needing help with, and the thought of phone counselling, where there is no office visit, just feels easier
Virtual Is Reality: The Changing Counselling Office
Phone Counselling: Emotional Barrier Buster?

Mobility Concerns

  • You have a physical disability which prevents you from travelling to an appointment or attending a face-to-face appointment
  • You would not be physically comfortable in an office environment
  • You have physical needs that could only be met in your own home

Other Concerns

  • You have limited access to childcare and can only spare the time for a phone appointment
  • You are a caregiver with limited personal time
  • Phone counselling is more convenient for your particular schedule
  • Phone counselling may be available sooner than in in-person appointment
  • Your work situation will not allow the time it would take to have an appointment and commute to and from that appointment
  • You do not want to worry about traffic or parking
  • You are moving to the city or town your prospective phone counsellor is in and you would like to start with phone sessions until you have moved and can then participate in face-to-face counselling
  • If you are confined to your home for any other reason, and leaving to attend an appointment is not possible.

Policies

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.

Special Considerations

Privacy and Confidentiality

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.

Hardware and Software

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.

Session Experience

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.

Exceptions

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.

Professional Training

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.

Getting Started

Until July 2nd, all Willow Tree Counselling appointments are being offered by phone or video only. I currently have waiting and cancellation lists for those who are interested in phone or video counselling.

If you would like to give phone or video counselling a try, I welcome you to fill out an interest form so we can discuss your situation and needs further. I look forward to hearing from you!

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