How do online video sessions work?

Updated: Nov 25, 2020



You will need a webcam and a microphone – most laptops and smartphones come with these as standard now though you may want to check the quality is adequate as this can impact on your enjoyment of the session. Where your technology is not sufficient i.e. audio quality is lacking, it may not be possible for me to provide you with the session and in such instances, the session is non-refundable as the onus is on you, the client, to quality check your equipment prior to agreeing/booking a session.



Steps for video sessions

Set up the platform on your device – whether you’re a Windows, Mac or Android user, download or login to Skype (or other platform as agreed) and set up your profile. Get familiar with the platform. Feel comfortable. Platforms have a ‘test’ function to check your video, audio and microphone work properly. You may prefer to use headphones, especially if there is background noise - see what works best for you.


Consider the placement of your camera and screens. The more central your camera is to where the screen of the therapist appears, the more it will seem that we have eye-contact. Play around with the screen options to best suit yourself. Most platforms have an option to make the speaker the larger screen and make the screen of yourself very small which can help distract you less. Consider that in an in-person session you would not ordinarily see yourself. You can always stick a post-it over the part of you that appears on the screen if you find you are still distracted by your own image.


Consider the distance you wish to sit from the camera. You may wish to sit the camera back from you a little, as much as your headphones allow and is comfortable. If you think about the normal therapeutic space (in-person), we would be able to see each others torso, not just our heads. Whilst we can still see each other via webcam, our ability to read body language may still be a little lacking depending on how far you sit away from the camera. Ultimately, sit how you are comfortable but consider the position of the camera for me so that it feels I am talking to you rather than your cheek, chin or a floating head. This can be another thing that helps the online experience of therapy feel similar to in-person sessions.


Set up the appointment – pick a time when you will be undisturbed and available to truly focus on the session. Ideally, be alone in the house/office or car. Consider placing a do not disturb sign on your door if necessary. Contact me with your availability stating that you'd like video appointments. Read through the therapeutic contract once that is sent to you. A benefit to using headphones as well is that what I say cannot be heard by anyone else, thus ensuring more confidentiality if you are not alone.


Sort out payment – PayPal or BACS are my accepted methods currently. You will then receive an email to confirm your purchase if requested.


Get set up early – a few minutes before the appointment itself, ensure you are logged onto Skype and ready to go. This gives you one more opportunity to test your video, audio and microphone before the meeting to ensure that everything is working smoothly. Skype has a function where it can test call you to check these things and I strongly encourage you to do so, most issues are because your version of Skype has not updated or your hardware has and so it's worth checking this before hand so that issues don't take into session time. Communicate to others that you are not to be disturbed where necessary (e.g. pop a note on the door).


Relax – get into an open frame of mind. Have a drink with you, tissues and a notepad is often helpful in case you wish to jot anything down. Sometimes, particularly when you first start out, video meetings can feel a little unusual and put you on edge, practising a few minutes of mindfulness and reminding yourself that the session is for you, can help.


Await the therapist– once Sophie logs on, she can activate the call and begin the session at the time it is scheduled to start.


Potential issues of video sessions

  • Whilst research shows you do not get anything less for your time with video-sessions compared with in-person sessions (read more here); microphone, sound and video issues are the most likely culprits. Ensure your settings are optimised.

  • The internet is pretty stable now, but loss of service is still a potential problem. Please communicate asap if there is an issue with your connection and we will revert to our agreed back-up method where possible.

  • To minimise bandwidth issues, ensure you have any other devices connected to your wifi turned off or turn off their wifi if you are able to and be as close to the wifi router as possible or use LAN connection (preferable).

  • If you are connecting via smartphone then set it to do not disturb so that an incoming call does not cut off your connection to our session as that can sometimes happen depending on phone settings.

  • If your microphone is not working and the solution isn't obvious, you can call Sophie via telephone/Whatsapp so we can still see each other via video but can hear each other!

  • Disturbances: ensure you have a quiet place for the session, and also set your phone status to ‘do not disturb’ or silent - you will need to create your safe therapeutic space as Sophie has no influence over your environment. Some clients set the atmosphere by lighting a scented candle that they only light during therapy, for example.

  • You may also like to consider that during an in-person, face-to-face session, you can't see yourself on a screen - you have the option to make your camera pop out as small as possible or pop a post-it over that area so that it feels more "natural" if you prefer that.

  • Security: You are responsible for your security using online mediums. Sophie uses a WiFi secured with a password and VPN and cannot be overheard or seen when in session with you as her office is safe and private. Her software has up to date virus protection. Skype is also a secured platform and Sophie investigates other options from time to time to see which works best both for security, ease and user experience. Sophie's chosen email host uses double end encryption which is the safest method of email, and she is GDPR compliant and registered with ICO.


If you have any further questions or are unsure about any part of the booking process - feel free to drop me a message via my contact form and I will get back to you as soon as I can. I have been using video-counselling since 2018, text-based and telephone since 2015.


Best regards, Sophie

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