Online counselling and therapy session

Online counselling – yay or nay?

Online counselling and psychotherapy sessions have become the norm since COVID-19. Whether you like them or not, they are here to stay. Let’s explore the pros and cons of online therapy.

Pro – convenience and flexability

As long as you are in a private space and no one can hear you, you can attend your counselling session anywhere you like. I have spoken to people whilst in their car, wardrobe, cupboards, you name it. Pop in a set of headphones and you can have your session walking in a park – no one will pay attention and can only hear one side of the conversation. Just let your therapist know, after all, confidentiality is important.

Being busy shouldn’t stop you from attending online sessions. They are flexible and can be scheduled during your lunch break or even when you’re on the road.

You and your counsellor can still attend sessions even if you are feeling unwell but still want to attend your sessions, the same goes with your therapist. We understand the importance of not spreading germs.

Pro – geographic locations

Online counselling ignores borders, allowing you to access therapy from virtually anywhere in the world. Whether you’re exploring bustling cities, serene beaches, or remote villages. This also goes for if you live in rural areas, the middle of Australia, work FIFO or on a fishing boat in the middle of the ocean. As long as you have a decent internet connection you can connect with your therapist. Remember to check your time zones, you might not wish to have a 3 am counselling session.

Pro – specialisations

If you are searching for a particular specialisation, like kink-friendly counselling, it may not be available in your local area. However, with online counselling, you can access professional counsellors and psychotherapists from anywhere in the country. This means that your options are now limitless.

Photo By Cottonbro Studio

Pro – privacy

Imagine this. You are living in a town of 1200 people. There are two counsellors to choose from. The town is one of those places where everyone knows everything about you. Are you going to want to see one of the two counsellors with the risk that someone will see you (your privacy means the world to you)? Online counselling offers that privacy. No one will ever know you are attending sessions unless you tell them.

Pro – most therapy styles can be practised professionally

In terms of online counselling, I have not yet encountered a counselling framework or style that cannot be used. Of course, it’s different if we need to physically touch a part of the body to access it, but with counselling, we don’t typically have to rely on physical touch.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, counsellors have successfully adapted their practices to offer online services, including EMDR therapy and games to support children. Online group therapy sessions have been proven to help remove isolation and assist in connecting with others.

Pro – extra layer of protection

Some of the things you want to work on are difficult for you to talk through – especially face-to-face. I get that, your parts are holding shame and would prefer some extra protection as you talk about them. Online counselling offers that, as do phone sessions. The screen offers a barrier between you and your counsellor. I have received feedback from clients about the added layer of perceived protection allowing them to share things they would never mention in the office.

The same goes for the environment. Sitting in a therapy office may be difficult for you, it hinders you from opening up as you have had negative experiences before. Being able to stay at home in comfort (including PJs) can offer an extra level of protection for you. That is perfectly okay! We do what we need to do to make counselling work best for you.

fixing broken internet connection

Cons – technical issues

Battery issues, bad connections, and programs not working are all issues we have to work around by having online counselling sessions. One day everything works fine, the next they are glitching. Sometimes it’s pot luck on whats will work and what won’t.

Cons – communication issues

One major complaint about online counselling and therapy is the lack of connection between client and therapist. There is truth in this – missed body language and the slightest facial cues can hinder the connections between all involved. Some individuals have stated they feel further away and distant due to the screen.

Con – privacy concerns

Even though I included privacy concerns as a positive, it can also be a negative. You may have taken every precaution to be in a private area, but there is no guarantee someone will not walk into the room or overhear you. As for leaked or hacked programs, ask your therapist if the program they are using is telehealth-compliant to help ease your mind.

Online counselling offers a range of benefits, including convenience, accessibility, flexibility, and privacy. It breaks down geographical barriers, making therapy accessible to individuals regardless of where you are. However, it’s important to acknowledge the potential drawbacks, such as technological issues, privacy concerns, and perceived lack of connection. Despite these challenges, many individuals find online counselling to be a valuable and effective form of mental health support. By being aware of these drawbacks and actively addressing them, both clients and therapists can maximise the benefits of online counselling while mitigating potential risks. Ultimately, online counselling is not going anywhere. Is it time you embraced it?

Nesting Dolls

EMDR and hidden parts

We would like to think we are simple beings with easy answers. The reality is, humans are no such thing.

We are made of ‘parts’. This means we are a whole being made of many different parts of us. These parts are developed across our lifespan. Some are helpful, and some are not. They include protectors, managers, parter, parent, critic, sceptic, inner child, inner adolescent, and more. Each of us have different parts, they are in itself, individual.

You most likely have seen “Inside Out”, or heard Taylor Swift’s new song “Anti Hero“. Adele rang her child/adolescent part in her song “Hello” and apologised for what she wished she had done differently. The media has its own way of speaking to us about parts. Our parts can control our lives if we let them.

In EMDR, all your parts need to be on board, or we may find roadblocks along the way. Sometimes, you and I can identify them early in the history-taking sessions. Other times they are well hidden and let themselves be known later on.

This is a story (with permission) of a client I have been working with for a while. We will refer to the client as Melissa.

Melissa and I had been working on her inner child part for a few sessions. We do this by talking to her, playing with her, loving her, and finding out what she needs. I spoke directly to this part; they need to know and trust me.

We had introduced the container (a safe place to lock things away we don’t want to feel or remember, for now, to be brought out later), a calm place (a favourite place for Melissa to go when she is feeling stressed or anxious), and her circle of security (made up on 7 figures – protector, nurturing, and wisdom). The first stages of EMDR are built on emotional regulation. This stage cannot be missed and will take longer for some, which is okay.

When the time was right, we decided to begin the trauma processing stage.

Before we started, Melissa’s 6-year-old protector part paid us a visit. I knew this part was young as Melissa’s voice and wording changed. Parts speak through you. You become their voices and ears. We spoke to her, showed her she was loved and appreciated and then went to do something fun. A visit from this part and the consequent conversation decreased Melissa’s heightened emotions automatically.

We began eye movements. Six sets (waves of eye movements) in, Melissa felt her adolescent protector part arrive. She is a spicy little thing! Full of attitude and sass, all in the name of protecting Melissa from any harm I was about to do to her! I attempted a conversation (always with the parts permission). Her response was along the lines of “why should I trust you? I don’t know you!” I asked Melissa to speak directly to this part. The same process – to find out what she needs, how we can help, and what they are worried about. Not forgetting to validate the parts role over the years, thank them, and show them, love. The important take away here is this part is around 13-15 years old, and takes her role in protecting seriously, and so she should! I suggested Melissa speak more to this part than me as there was resistance in speaking to me, after all, I was a stranger.

We continued with a few more eye movement sets before I asked Melissa to contain what we were working on with plans of returning in the next 2 days. This protector part was not about to let go easily, and more work was needed here. Together we devised a plan.

Saturday arrived, Melissas parts, Melissa, and I set to work. The first point of call was to add to her circle of security tool kit. We added an Ideal Figure (used when parents or caregivers are unsafe). We introduced the 15-year-old protector part and the new ideal figure. This was a perfect match!

A few eye movement sets in the original target memory had reduced enough for our work to move further into the past. Melissa noted her protector part was now standing back and watching instead of being involved and trying to stop the process. She noticed a feeling of loss and abandonment from her part, yet she was happy enough to allow Melissa to do what she needed to do.

We worked through another 2 target memories from Melissa’s past, cutting the cords of emotional connection to the memories that once caused high levels of distress. These memories are now harder to bring with no distressing emotions attached.

We came back to the original target to finish the cutting of emotions. Melissa noted her original belief had shifted from “I am not secure”, to “I am not safe”. This can happen during EMDR; the mind will do what it needs to do when we stay out of the way.

It was this point Melissa said to me

“There is something here. It’s not 15-year-old. It’s something different”

Melissa and I worked together to discover who this new part was. She described it as having no face and being rather negative. We wondered if this part was a sceptic. I introduced myself and explained what we were doing and how life would be different. Sometimes, it is too much to think of a new life without the cape of trauma encasing you. Your trauma is safe, it is secure, and you know what to expect. Except, logically, we know this is not reality. Truth is, your traumas can keep you from living your best life and experiencing all the wonderful things in life.

Suddenly, Melissa says – “I know who it is! It is my saboteur!” Melissa knew this part well, and she had noted when she felt this part arrive and impact her life. Yet, on some level, Melissa felt this part was protecting her. At this moment, this part which was disguising itself as a protector, stepped out from behind the shadows and made itself known. Melissa spoke of times when it had shown up previously and now knowing what it really was is powerful. The faceless creature only came out of its hiding place because the 15-year-old protector part had stepped down.

Melissa described her monster as the creature from Netflix’s Wednesday, with more of a human face.

“It’s a monster. A faceless monster made up of everyone who spoke to me badly. Of all the people who hurt me. It’s mean!”

This discovery helped move the trauma through Melissa’s mind and body with little resistance. We decided to put the Ideal Figure in front of the monster. Melissa did tell it to go away. She and I worked together to quieten and weaken the saboteur enough to clear and cut the cord of the recent target memory we were working on.

It was a long, exhausting session for all of us.

Melissa has checked in with me since this session. She is reporting increased emotional control and less reactivity. She knows her monster is strong. She has left the ideal figure and a protector figure from the circle of security with the monster and has surrounded herself with nurturing figures. This part will be linked to a few beliefs. They are target memories in our treatment plan. Melissa needs to show this part boundaries, as well as love. All our parts (even the negative ones) need love and connection. By making friends with them, getting to know them, and knowing they can trust us by letting go and relaxing is important. Our parts do not need to control us, they can work with us.

If you want to learn more about your parts or feel EMDR may help you, connect with me today.