Benefits of Zoom & Skype Video Counselling

Zoom and Skype real-time video “webcam” conferencing  video provides a good counselling experience. You use it from the privacy and security of your own home or business. Yes! 🎉

For some, video counselling seemed an inferior option to face-to-face services. Yet when couples (using two video devices – see further down) and established groups (one device each) access Counsellor Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg)’s experienced service for LGBT/QIA+ relationships they find the experience rewarding. They encounter effective, relationship-transforming behaviour even while sitting hundreds of miles away from their counsellor.

Some have been making long-distance relationships work for years, and even those who live together make good use of webcam counselling.

Dean is an British counsellor, residing in south England (Hampshire). He is now into his 22nd year of counselling practice and 15th year of video therapy. He is skilled in using Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp Video, Facebook Chat, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and other services.

Counselling Service on a Laptop

Compare Face-to-Face Counselling with Real-time Video Counselling…

Physical Office Location

When counselling at a counsellor's physical location or office:-

  • You leave home half-an-hour (?) early.
  • You drive to the area, find a parking space, pay for parking, leave the car & walk to the consultation room.
  • You wait in the waiting room (or outside locked gates) until the appointment time.
  • You work for 50 minutes.
  • Finally, you leave the counsellor's office to make the journey back home.

Real-time Video Conferencing

When counselling using real-time video technology:

  • You sit in front of your computer (tablet or smartphone) around 5 minutes before the appointment time.
  • At the session time your video kicks in and the counsellor is there.
  • You work for 50 minutes.
  • At the end you put the kettle on 👍🏻.

Video Counselling Helps

Rather than travelling to your counsellor’s office each week, you will call-in from the comfort of your home or office. When you use your broadband service or another data plan, the Internet call is free. You will use a device that you already own. It will be outfitted with a video camera as well as a microphone. You’ll have downloaded the free* app (Zoom, Skype, Google meet etc). Now you’re set!

Smartphones, tablets, PCs/Laptops, Macs, and Chromebooks all work well with this service. This is how you communicate with your counsellor over video in real time.

Video counselling sessions follow the same framework as face-to-face sessions. Counselling remains conversation-based. It sometimes uses  shared apps like whiteboards or Genogram relationship diagrams.

Because you’ll be at home or at work, you’ll have to take on some of the counsellor’s tasks (privacy, safety, personal needs such as tissues, water etc).

You’ll also benefit from lower costs: no travel costs, car parking fees. No sitting around in a waiting room.

When considering LGBT/QIA+ Counselling during self-isolation, regional lockdown or simply because it’s downright convenient, video counselling for relationships would be the better choice or your and your partner (and your partner’s partner(s))… together.

Zoom Counselling for LGBT Couples
Skype Video Counselling for LGBT Couples
Google Meet Counselling for LGBT Couples
WhatsApp Video Counselling for LGBT

LGBT/QIA+ Couple & Group Counselling via video is available on Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp & Google Meet.
Other video conferencing services may be available (please get in contact to discuss).
Unfortunately, Apple-Exclusive Platform Apps (Facetime etc) are not supported.

*Some services (Zoom, Google Meet) charge a fee for more than two people meeting / or for meetings longer than a set time (eg couple + counsellor, 50 minute sessions).
These charges will be paid for by your counsellor.
You will not have to pay extra.

One Device per Attendee

“Hold on… ONE separate device for each of us?!” 🤔

Yes! Let me explain.

For over 14 years, I have been providing couple counselling via video link/conferencing (Skype, Zoom, etc.). When I first started this practice, I concentrated on Long Distance Couple Relationships. Because such couples lived in different countries, each partner used their own Smartphone, Laptop, MacBook, Chromebook, and so on.

When the epidemic struck the United Kingdom in 2019, I noticed an interesting phenomenon in my counselling practice: partners living together benefited from using individual devices as well. Clients reported that the practice gave them the comforting feeling that they were not at home during counselling sessions. This approach encouraged couples who accessed counselling via Zoom to talk about topics during session that they would not normally discuss at home.

I now recommend that couples (and groups) meeting with me for counselling use one device each… and sit in different rooms to each other (where possible).  This is not compulsory (we can be creative otherwise), but is recommended.

Polyamorous Groups (and long-distance couple relationships) have an advantage of knowledge. Often living in separate locations they’ve known the benefits of one-device-per-partner during Zoom or Skype counselling for a long time.

With the majority of us owning our own Smartphone (yes, Smartphones work very well in video-counselling), using one device per person is easier than ever before. So, before you enter a Zoom/Skype counselling engagement with me for Relationship Counselling, consider the following Video Counselling Preparations…

 

Video Counselling for Gay & Lesbian Couples

Video Counselling Preparation...

Preparations for Individuals, Couples & Groups.

  • Remember that counselling sessions are (still) a professional engagement. Even though you're at home with easy access to your fridge, comfy pyjamas and footstool, aim to behave as if you would be meeting your counsellor in his office.
  • Have your video device prepared well in advance with the software installed that you and Dean have agreed upon first contact (whilst Zoom or Skype is preferred, Dean may also use WhatsApp, Facebook and others - provided there's a prior conversation before the session). Ensure that your Operating System has all updates installed beforehand (some upgrades can take a long time) and that your Apps have the most recent security updates.
  • Use a headset/microphone combination (such as those supplied with your Smartphone, or computer). Not only helpful for your privacy, Skype and Zoom work significantly better by avoiding echo, disturbing feedback or blocking the audio for several seconds whilst the software filters out your own audio being sent back from your caller's device.
Dean Richardson: Skype/Zoom Counsellor

  • Use a table or stand if using a tablet or Smartphone (rather than holding the device for 50/90 minutes). Keeping the device held not only relieves your hands and keeps the camera steady, it also helps prevent feelings of sea-sickness in the observer when you're moving your camera.
  • Try to place your camera at eye level so that you're looking at your device on the horizontal. This ensures that you're not looking down or up at your counsellor (which can feel a little disturbing).
  • Ensure that your face is lit. This may mean you sitting facing a light-source (the window, a lamp etc). Otherwise you'll appear in shadow and your counsellor will not be able to see your face.
  • You will need a room that's private and away from others' earshot. If this is not possible, perhaps others in your house might leave for an hour).
  • Ensure that your environment is quiet - Skype & Zoom (etc) use technology that can "take over" the audio channel when you speak (or when there is sound in your room). If your room is noisy you may find that the counsellor's voice becomes cut-off or interrupted.
  • Make sure you won't be disturbed: tell others in your house not to come into your room. Maybe put a note on your room's door - or your house's front door - saying "Do Not Disturb" so that others are reminded before they enter your room and/or your doorbell isn't rung. It's quite disturbing when you're halfway discussing something private or sensitive only to have someone burst into your room (be it a child needing your attention or another adult).
  • Be aware of your environment: think about things such as lighting where the window is, how far away you are from the microphone and camera, is there other things on your device's screen that might distract you, are your messaging apps closed, are all bandwidth sucking apps closed (eg Dropbox, Google Drive etc - or someone in your location streaming video).
Important: Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, Mac, Macbook) running Apple-exclusive software (Facetime etc) cannot be used with this service.

Preparations for Couples & Groups.

  • Prepare to use one video device per person rather than one device for two or more of you.
  • Couples and groups have commented that whilst attending a video counselling session it can feel helpfully "we're not at home" to be physically separated whilst speaking with one's partner(s) via video. This can assist the relationship in discussing matters together that would not normally be discussed "at home".
  • In addition to multiple devices, I recommend you being in separate rooms from each other (eg living room / kitchen). Whilst this is not compulsory, if your voice can be picked up by your partner's microphone this will introduce audio echo; you will have to mute your microphone when you're not speaking.
  • When calling from the same location it may seem illogical to use two devices. Note the illustration for Couple Counselling: when working face-to-face with couples, both partners are angled away from the counsellor and more towards each other. This promotes the couple focussing upon their relationship (holding conversations, listening to each other etc) and the counsellor is able to observe and interveneSuch positioning also helps promote the concept of the counsellor being a therapeutic consultant rather than someone the couple sit in front of (like a cinema audience might) attending to him delivering a lecture upon the couple's relationship.
  • When working with groups of 3 or more if people speak over each other we may talk about how we creatively manage each person having their voice heard (when they want it to be) - such as using a virtual "talking stick".
Image showing how couples sit during counselling

  • Of course, there are always alternative approaches to using one-device-per-person or sitting in separate rooms/locations. We can always set aside some time for this. As long as the main aims are catered for such as (a) the couple or group will be talking with each other during the session, (b) the counsellor is able to see and hear all partners throughout the session, and (c) the counsellor is available for consultation, feedback and intervention (rather than being positioned as the-expert-in-the-session-with-all-the-answers).
  • During a counselling session, if one-or-more of you intentionally disconnects the session will be brought to a close depending on who remains. Think of it like this: Relationship Counselling is therapy for a relationship (duh 🤣), and when a partner disconnects we might wonder if the relationship has effectively left the therapy session. Counselling can resume at the next scheduled session should all contracted partners attend.
  • If one or more of you unintentionally disconnects during the session, we will try to re-establish the connection as best we can, but we won't continue the session in a partner's absence.
  • If one or more of you leaves Relationship Counselling entirely: I will work with the remaining partner(s) for a handful of sessions to bring our contracted work to a close. We won't switch to another contract (individual for couples, or couples/individual for groups). You are welcome to engage with an alternative counsellor for your needs.
  • Sessions may be arranged for one partner alone (in the case of couple counselling) or for a subset of the group if we have (a) previously discussed that this meets with everyone's approval and (b) the attending partner(s) and counsellor update the absent partner(s) about what was discussed in their absence. Such situations might be if one or more partner(s) is/are unable to attend the occasional session.

14 years Professional Video Experience

As 2019 progressed, you will have noticed a growing number of counsellors adding “video counselling” to their services. A service that they did not offer before. Given that video therapy is not part of a counsellor’s qualifying training portfolio, I’d ask: how many of them had more than a few months (or weeks?) of practical experience with Zoom & Skype before introducing their service 🤔.

Dean has been working as an Online/Video Counsellor utilising Skype, Zoom, and other platforms since 2007. He introduced this service after completing extra professional training. Dean’s previous two decades of work experience in Information Technology & remove video conferencing were merged into this qualification (aka experience from IBM, Microsoft, Borland, local software development Ltd companies).

Dean’s decades of combined IT and psychotherapy expertise is uncommon among British counsellors.

While some other therapists were rushing to convert their practice to video, you can trust Dean Richardson’s extensive years of experience to manage your online video therapy.

(Click right-hand side “Whois” Record image for greater detail, or click https://whois.domaintools.com/icounsellor.co.uk for live evidence of registration).

 

iCounsellor.co.uk Domain Name Registration
OnlineCounsellors.co.uk Course Completed

OnlineCounsellors.co.uk Internet Counselling training completed May 2007

Beginning Video Counselling Together

OK, so how would we go about setting up and beginning our first counselling session over Zoom or Skype?

Here are some easy steps to follow:-

  1. You’ll have set up the app on your choice of device (which will allow you to test it beforehand).
  2. You’ll send your session fee prior to the session (such as using your Banking App to make a BACS transfer or paying by card/PayPal using my Online Card Payment Service).
  3. On the day of your counselling session, a few minutes before the session, you’ll sign-in to your private Zoom meeting room, or private Skype group that Dean had set-up previously. 
  4. At the session time, Dean will join the session.
  5. The first session follows a framework* to help the couple get started. Subsequent sessions follow the focus set by the clients.

Before all this happens, you will have been in contact with Dean to arrange a weekly session day and time. You’ll have sent in your £30 deposit to confirm your appointment.

*The first session is a mutual evaluation: we’re seeing if we can work together (even if the first session discovers some struggles to manage together in future sessions).

If the first few sessions show that our work is beneficial, we’ll continue working weekly until the couple identifies that the therapist can (literally) be made redundant. Then we’ll talk about how we bring to an end our sessions. 

Zoom

Realtime Zoom Counselling

  • A private meeting room will have been created when we began setting up our counselling contract. You will have been emailed the room’s URL and password.
  • You may join the meeting before Dean connects. You’ll start off a “waiting room”. This is a security feature so that no-one else can join our session.
  • At the session start time, Dean will move everyone from the waiting room into the meeting.

Skype

Realtime Skype Counselling

  • Ensure Skype is loaded and you are logged in.
  • A Skype “Group” will have been created when we were setting up our counselling contract. You will have been emailed access to the group. Before each counselling session begins you will both sign into the group. At the session start time Dean will join the group.

Privacy & Security during Video Calls

In counselling we may be working with a number of sensitive or distinctly private subjects. It wouldn’t be surprising for some to feel extra concerned about their privacy.

These off-site articles tackle the subjects of how privacy is maintained (through encryption) when using Zoom or Skype.

Be Informed of "non-British" Therapy Services

Video counselling takes place over the Internet - a free service supported by no-cost apps (Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, WhatsApp and others).

So, being Internet-based the service can reach almost anyone in the world.

Some areas (California, USA, for example) require that your therapist to be licensed by your home state.  As Dean Richardson is not licensed to work in California, he could not work with Californian citizens in therapy over the Internet. He can work with British expatriates, though.

Non-British Therapy Services targeting the UK

Now, as Britain doesn't have the same kind of licensure system as most USA states, non-British services can advertise their therapy services within the UK. Foreign services - not being transparent about their therapists being other than British - are currently advertising on social media, search engines and verbally in Podcasts.

If you're not looking for an American therapist, for example, you need to be aware of this kind of advertising happening. 

How to tell an Advert is not a British Service

Let me tell you how to detect that it's not a British service:-

  • Look for foreign phrases or misspelled words.
    Clue #1: "Counselor" in the UK is spelled with two "l"s. America spells it with one "l". 
  • Describing attributions that aren't a British requirement.
    Clue #2: offering to put you in touch with a "licensed counselor" (sic). In Britain, qualified counsellors are referred to as being "registered" or "accredited", but not "licensed". British counsellors & psychotherapists join a professional membership body and make our registration via a register recognised by the Professional Standards Authority for Health and Social Care.

Want to learn more about how non-UK regulated organisations are advertising in the UK? Read my notes: "Are you a Licensed Counselor?"

Don't give your Personal Details away

Be aware also that some of the websites of these services ask you to complete a form ("for free!"). The form starts simply, promising to put you in contact with their best counselor (sic), but as you progress through the form you're giving more and more personal details.  After several pages of giving many details you're then then invited to give your credit card.

  • You weren't matched with a counsellor, you were giving marketing information to the organisation... for free.
  • Notice, also, there was no GDPR Policy offered when the website began taking your personal details. You have no rights about how your details will be used.

Choose a British Registered Counsellor

Be safe online! Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg) is a fully qualified counsellor, registered (#NCS15-02454) with the Professional Standards Authority through the National Counselling Society.

 

About Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg)

You could choose any counsellor…

Given that this will be the most intimate and vulnerable you could be with your partner(s), you would want a talented professional whose expertise you can trust. Your couple or group relationship will be in good hands with Dean. He works from Great Britain, is Independent of "box 'em/shift 'e" organisations. He identifies as a gay couple counsellor. He is easily payable in pounds sterling! Dean already had an impressive 14 years actual video webcam experience way before the first British emergency began (did you notice other counsellors suddenly adding a video option to their portfolio?! 🤔).

What makes Dean a Distinct Counsellor

  • Dean is sensitive and effective to your sexuality / gender-identity and intimate ways of relating to each other.
  • You'll discover quickly that Dean is an informed member of your own community.
  • Dean demonstrates adept skills with lesbian, gay, bisexual, asexual, mixed sexuality and same-or-mixed gender relationships. He avoids the role of an "all-knowing expert";  experts don't learn & respond, they instruct!
  • Dean speaks plain English (and can swear like a virtuoso if you like, or not at all if you prefer). He works cooperatively with your relationship (no unnecessary silence, or just "hmms...").
  • Dean is proud to be an accredited member of The National Counselling Society. Accreditation is a valued recognition, originally awarded 12 years ago from another professional body. Accreditation usefully validates a counsellor's substantial experience and attention to ethical practice. Dean is a member of the Psychotherapy and Counselling Union of Great Britain.
If all that hits the mark… then you'd probably like to meet with the Online Gay Relationship Counsellor Dean Richardson MNCS(Accred/Reg) for LGBT/QIA+ yourself.

Specialist in LGBT/QIA+ Relationships

Dean focuses on LGBT/QIA+ relationships as a specialty in therapy. He works with individuals, couples and small groups. Plus, he's qualified to a postgraduate level (Chichester PG Diploma in Psychodynamic/Systemic Couple Counselling, IGA National Foundation in Group Counselling) as a private practice counsellor*.

(*Note: not all counsellors, particularly those who are commonly qualified in Individual Counselling, have such specific qualifications for working with couples or groups. Nor do they have therapeutic relationship experience. Such counsellors may try, perhaps out of misplaced goodwill, to employ "individual" techniques but will find they are ineffective. This is simply because your relationship is not part of their primary theoretical framework nor rationale. A couple is not "individual-counselling-multiplied-by-two!" Remember to always ask your potential counsellor: "what qualifies you to work with our relationship?" and trust your instincts based on the responses you hear).

Accredited Registrant of the National Counselling Society
Member of the British Psychotherapy and Counselling Union
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The Cove Therapy Rooms, 12 West Street Havant Hampshire PO9 1PF UK
+44-56-0366-3067£30-£130
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Private Relationship Counselling exclusively for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Mixed & Queer Couples and Established Polyamorous Groups - serving locations in and around central Havant, Petersfield to Waterlooville, Cosham to Portsmouth & Southsea, Southampton to Chichester, Fareham to Gosport, Hayling Island, Emsworth, Westbourne, Rowland's Castle, stretching westwards to Bournemouth and eastwards towards Brighton & Hove. For local residents anywhere in between and regularly further afield!

Got a Question about Counselling?

Don't Hold Back… if you have a question about counselling for gay / lesbian / bisexual couples & groups, or want to ask about making a first counselling appointment, you're welcome to get in contact to discuss your needs.