Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, life seems to have moved online. From business meetings and social meet-ups to healthcare appointments, people now routinely interact on Zoom and many other similar platforms. At KlearMinds, online counselling sessions have always been available as a convenient alternative to meeting face-to-face. But is it equally effective to ‘meet’ in this way?
What is online counselling?
Virtual counselling sessions are one method for delivering talking therapies, making use of a laptop or desktop computer, or a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. At KlearMinds, we can use any of the common platforms including WhatsApp and FaceTime, Microsoft Teams and Google Hangouts, Zoom and Skype, or similar software.
What all these programs have in common is that you and your therapist can see each other while talking in real time. That way, social distancing can be observed, and even long-distance appointments can easily be arranged. We are able to use this technology to provide life coaching, counselling sessions and psychotherapy to our clients in the comfort and safety of their own home.
What happens during a virtual appointment?
In an online therapy session, your counsellor or therapist will work with you to assess the issues that you are facing and help you overcome your difficulties. The content and structure of virtual therapy is the same as in a face-to-face session. Appointments are scheduled in a similar way, with regular meetings of the same length. It goes without saying that we maintain the same standards of privacy and confidentiality as if we were meeting in person.
You will be meeting in a private, secure ‘room’. Online video and chat services use an advanced form of internet security called encryption, meaning that your conversation is safe. In the unlikely event that someone manages to intercept a message, they would be unable to decipher the encrypted code.
Is the digital environment conducive to therapy?
One of the concerns often voiced is that, in an online environment, the therapist is deprived of the ability to observe the client ‘in real life’, including elements such as body language, tone of voice and overall demeanour that provide important insights into a person’s wellbeing. Others have queried the comparatively impersonal setting that could prevent a strong therapist/client relationship from forming. And can digital communication really provide appropriate skills, tools and healing power for people staring at a screen?
The good news is that there appears to be no discernible difference between face-to-face and virtual therapy as far as effectiveness is concerned. Scientific research has consistently shown that online treatment is a capable tool to deal with mental health and wellbeing issues.
Studies published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, Behaviour Research and Therapy and the Journal of Psychological Disorders variously demonstrated that online counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is as effective as face-to-face therapy in helping people address a wide range of issues including anxiety and depression, career concerns and relationship issues.
Which issues can be dealt with via online therapy?
We are able to use online counselling and coaching for a wide range of issues including Stress, Anxiety and Depression, Relationship Issues and Family Problems, Self-Esteem and Self-Confidence, Career Coaching, Life Transitions, Bereavement, Trauma and much more.
At KlearMinds, our team of life coaches, counsellors and psychotherapists all have their own areas of specialisation. Depending on the issue you wish to address, we will find the most suitable person to work with you. In these unprecedented times, your mental health is more important than ever. For more information about our online therapies or to book a telephone or video appointment, please get in touch.
After more than a year of isolation, regularly hearing messages like “stay home and stay safe”, from 19th July 2021 some big changes are taking place. Many activities that were restricted or closed will now resume and the wearing of face masks will become voluntary. For some, these changes will cause an increase in tension and some may feel more socially anxious than ever. You are not the only one and if you are experiencing higher levels of anxiety, it’s understandable.
For some people, lockdown has increased a sense of security with life seeming more certain and predictable than usual. However as changes start you may feel anxious about what is an uncertain and at times unsafe world. For example questions such as:- Could I still contract the virus? Will my vaccinations protect me? What if colleagues or friends want to hug? Others may appear far more relaxed about the changing rules and not adhere to any distancing. Some may be feeling a pressure to return to work with uncertainty about how safe that environment will be.
On a practical level the last year may have offered advantages that you are reluctant to give up. You may have loved not having to go beyond sweat pants or pyjamas whereas now the work clothes are coming out of the wardrobe again. Not having to navigate a commute and saving money all seem like positive outcomes of lockdown which we may be reticent to give up.
Do I have any Choice?
One of the big changes which perhaps garners less attention is the fact that the pandemic has raised choices. Prior to lockdown, we worked and lived in particular ways which we though were fixed. Lockdown has shown that there is more flexibility. For example, the way we work has been significantly altered, with many not returning to their offices and working in a blended way. It’s possible that some of the things we regarded as fixed, may actually have more flexibility post Covid. Recognising you have choices and exploring these choices can be helpful as we make post 19th July adjustments.
Other techniques which can help us navigate these changes include, taking time, recognising you’re not alone and taking things a step at a time. Lots of people will be feeling anxious about the changes and many will fear returning to their workplace and old routines. Talk about this transition, recognise that you’re not alone and if you need additional help with anxiety, seek it. Make time to relax too – we need breaks and many things we could take for granted before Covid may have changed. That’s taxing, so taking breaks is vital.
It is estimated that approximately 250,000 people across the UK suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). Despite this number, not many people know how to recognise CFS and are often unaware of the symptoms, or what to do if they are suffering from it. Unfortunately, CFS often has a major impact on your well-being and day to day life, making it difficult to cope with. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) and can also be unpredictable. If you would like to find out more about CFS and what to do about it, keep reading our blog for more information.
What are the symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
There are many symptoms of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and they can often vary between different people. Not everyone experiences all of the same symptoms, so it can sometimes be difficult to identify. The most common symptoms that people with CFS tend to experience include tiredness, irritability, a general lack of well-being, poor concentration, sensitivity and sleep disturbances. For more information on the symptoms of the CFS, take a look at our list below:
- General feeling of discomfort
- Tiredness which is not relieved by any amount of sleep
- Sleeping problems such as insomnia or un-refreshing sleep
- Memory problems – difficulty concentrating
- Sore throat
- Enlarged lymph nodes in neck or armpits
- Unexplained muscle pain
- Severe headaches
- Stomach problems such as nausea, bloating, diarrhoea and constipation
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Extreme exhaustion lasting more than 24 hours after mental or physical exercise
What should I do if I am suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome?
If you are suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, you should consider counselling. At Klearminds, we have helped many people with CFS and can help to support you with both the physical and psychological impact of CFS. If you would like to speak to one of our experienced counsellors today, you can get in touch with us by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or you can call us on 0333 772 0256. All information that you provide is handled completely confidentially.
Research has shown that a mere 7% of human communication is based on what we actually say. The remaining 93% is non-verbal, of which 38% comes from tone of voice and 55% from body language. Learning how to read other people’s body language can yield an astonishing amount of information about them, as many counsellors and psychotherapists know only too well.
However, interpreting body language is a lot more complex than just looking up someone’s body shape on a definitive list such as this one. How do you know whether a person who has their arms crossed is feeling defensive or superior? Or are they feeling relaxed and putting their arms into a comfortable position?
This is where the 5 C’s come in. It’s a set of additional clues that can help us read body language and other non-verbal communication in a more coherent and accurate way.
Behaviour and communication are two-way processes, with external events acting as triggers that stimulate our responses. Ask yourself: What might have just happened for the person to take that body stance? There may be more than one answer.
A cue can also be triggered internally, so ask yourself: Looking at the person’s body language, what might they be thinking or feeling? The cue-response sequence can even be instinctive, such as the fear-and-recoil response to seeing a spider or a rat.
Body language may suddenly change, say from open to closed formation, or the person suddenly scratching their nose – both of which may indicate discomfort. When you notice a transition, think back for clues that may have triggered their change in behaviour.
Sales people, for instance, use body language signals all the time. A customer leaning forward displaying positive non-verbal responses is subtly sending buying signals that the sales rep will use to help him close the deal.
More often than not, body language is more than a single event – in fact, it very rarely is. Instead, a cluster of different movements take place together. A person may shift position, cross their arms, lean backwards and purse their lips. They’re clearly in disagreement with whatever just happened or was said.
However, sometimes these cluster movements contradict each other, sending mixed messages. When this happens, be extra vigilant and trust your instinct, then back it up with reasons why you might be feeling this way.
Next, look at the general character of the person. What are they like and what body language is normal for them? For instance, extroverts may naturally display frequent and large body movements, unlike introverts who prefer to take up less space.
Trying to decipher people’s non-verbal communication in an effort to interpret their thoughts and actions is notoriously difficult, particularly if you apply the ‘wrong’ filter. What’s more, temperament, mood and short-term emotional state can modify a person’s normal character and behaviour, making their body language even more complex.
Finally, take account of the broader context that may influence how the other person feels, thinks and acts. In terms of the immediate physical surroundings, for instance, young men in the presence of attractive women will alter their behaviour to include more mate-attracting moves.
This also goes for the wider context of a person’s life. Past experiences good and bad can have a significant effect on their body language. Unless you know about these modifiers, your ability to interpret the person’s non-verbal communications may remain superficial.
When it comes to your physical health, you wouldn’t think twice to see a doctor. But what about your mental health and emotional wellbeing? Many people feel nervous, embarrassed or even ashamed about seeing a counsellor. Why?
Well, not only is there a stigma attached to admitting that you may need help taking care of your mental health, there’s also a lot of misinformation out there about the kinds of people who seeking counselling, and what a counsellor does and doesn’t do. Here are 5 myths that we’re going to lay to rest right now.
1 – Counselling is only for people with serious mental health issues.
Many people believe that in order to see a counsellor, you need to have a psychological disorder or be seriously mentally ill. The reality is entirely different. Counselling can be beneficial for everyone. Whether you seek support for everyday matters such as stress management or relationship issues, mental health challenges like depression, or life events such as a bereavement, counsellors and psychotherapists are expertly trained to help people with a wide range of concerns.
2 – It’s easier to talk to friends and family about my problems.
There is a common belief that seeking the support of your friends and family is just as good as getting professional counselling. But while being able to share your problems with your friends and family is obviously helpful, it is very different from the relationship with a trained counsellor who has specialist skills in diagnosing and treating a range of cognitive, behavioural and emotional issues. What’s more, counselling is entirely private and confidential, meaning you don’t have to take the feelings of your loved ones into account when you speak.
3 – Counselling is nothing but endless talk about my childhood.
Another common misconception is that counselling sessions are spent endlessly rehashing the past, your childhood and the relationship with your parents. The truth is that counselling is tailored to meet your unique personal situation. While some people will benefits from exploring their various previous relationships that are impacting their current reality, others may wish to focus on the present time to inform their future pathways. Counselling draws on a range of approaches to resolve concerns and achieve desired outcomes.
4 – Counselling takes ages; it’s like writing a blank cheque.
Many people mistakenly believe that if you go to counselling, you’re committing to endless sessions that will, over time, cost you an arm and a leg. However, modern counselling is outcome focused and affordable. Private health insurance can also significantly reduce the cost of mental health treatment, while many counsellors keep their fees moderate to ensure maximum access to quality care and support for all. While the goal of counselling is to help people manage their individual challenges, most patients will get there with effective short-term counselling, while others may need several months or more intensive support.
5 – I tried it once and it didn’t work, so counselling is not for me.
Just because you may have had one bad experience with counselling, this doesn’t mean the treatment isn’t for you. If you’re not happy with one counsellor, get a second opinion elsewhere. There are literally thousands of counsellors and psychotherapists in practice. Each one is different and it’s important to find one that you can build a positive rapport with. In fact, the ‘therapeutic alliance’ is at the core of every successful counselling treatment. Trust, respect and working towards a common goal together is probably one of the most reliable indicators of positive counselling outcomes.
At KlearMinds, we have a team of professionals trained in a range of counselling, life coaching and psychotherapy approaches. This means we can tailor our therapy choices to suit your individual learning style and give you the best opportunity to achieve positive results. For more information about the KlearMinds team and how we can support you, please get in touch on 0333 772 0256 or email email@example.com.
When a loved one dies, it can feel like the end of the world as we know it. The natural response of grieving for our loss is a hard and extremely painful process to go through, and we all have a different and unique response to losing someone close.
Bereavement counselling is there for you when it seems like you’re drowning in sorrow, unable to move forward. That’s when it can be enormously beneficial to work with a trained therapist who can help you through the stages of grieving to enable you to acknowledge and process what has happened. With the benefit of counselling, you will in time allow life to continue with adaptation and change while preserving the memory of the person who passed away.
There are 5 generally recognised stages of grieving that we all go through when learning to cope with personal loss. As you move through the bereavement process, you may experience some or all of these stages and in any order. It is an important part of the healing process to allow yourself to experience and accept all the feelings as they occur.
- Shock and Disbelief
The first response to a bereavement is typically one of disbelief and shock, even if the death did not come as a surprise. Numbness is often a natural reaction to an immediate loss – it’s our body’s way to shield us from the intensity of the event, and can be useful when action needs to be taken, for instance to make funeral arrangements. As we slowly acknowledge what has happened, the feelings of shock and denial will diminish.
- Guilt and Bargaining
This stage involves an intense preoccupation with what might have been, if only some other course of events had occurred. It’s easy to obsess endlessly about how things could have been better, what could have been done to prevent the worst outcome. That’s why it is important to resolve this stage, so that guilt and remorse don’t get in the way of the long-term healing process.
Many people will experience anger over their personal loss which may feel unfair and untimely. Strong feelings of anger can be a result of perceived helplessness and powerlessness, either as a result of having somehow been ‘abandoned’ by the deceased or because a higher power was at play.
- Depression and Loneliness
Once the full extent of the loss is realised, sadness and loneliness begin to set in. Normal responses may develop into depression as it becomes difficult to ease the pain. Sleeplessness, low mood, appetite disturbances, lack of energy, self-pity, social withdrawal and physical pains are all symptomatic of this stage of grieving.
In the final stages of bereavement, we begin to fully accept that the death has occurred and we are slowly allowing ourselves the ability to manage its effect on us. Healing can begin once the loss becomes integrated into our life experiences and we are able to move forward with our life.
If you feel that it would be helpful to speak to an experienced bereavement counselor to share your personal circumstances, please contact us to arrange an appointment at one of our London clinics.
Are you wondering which is best, counselling or coaching?
So you can explore quickly and easily, which approach might suit you best, we have created a simple infographic to help you understand some of the primary differences between counselling and coaching