How do I decide which online counselling option to choose?

The Counselling Service offers you three options:

Email

You and your counsellor will take turns to send and respond to each other’s emails, usually weekly, using your @bham.ac.uk account.

Pros include:

  • You can send an email at any time of the day or night and your counsellor will respond once a week.
  • You may find it easier to use text to express your thoughts and feelings and you may have more time to edit what you want to say.
  • You can save emails onto a password protected word document and reflect on them in between sessions.
  • Sometimes the lack of visual contact can help you to disclose things you may not have felt able to express in person.

Cons include:

  • You may have to wait up to five working days for a response from your counsellor.
  • Communicating in this way can be more open to misunderstandings which are likely to take longer to address because of the waiting time between responses. Spontaneity within the relationship will be lost.
  • You will need to take care to regularly delete your emails or (if you want to keep them for personal reference) to save them to a password protected word document.
  • You may not feel comfortable expressing yourself using a text only method.

Live texting - Internet Relay Chat (IRC)

You and your counsellor will agree a day and time for counselling to take place using the conferencing function on Canvas.

Pros include:

  • You are communicating in the here and now with your counsellor as you experience a range of thoughts and feelings, so your counsellor can be alongside you during this process.
  • Sometimes the lack of visual contact can help you to disclose things you may not have felt able to express in person.
  • You may find it easier to use text to express your thoughts and feelings. Your counsellor can guide you through the process of ‘netiquette’ to help enhance your experience of counselling in this way.

Cons include:

  • You may feel less comfortable typing in ‘real time’ because of your typing speed or concerns about your spelling.
  • You may feel less comfortable with the online silences which may occur while your counsellor types, is thinking, or as a space to reflect.
  • You need to feel comfortable using the technology.

Audio and visual or web conferencing

Using the conferencing function on Canvas with the audio and visual tools, you can meet your counsellor at an agreed day and time and speak to them directly.

Pros include:

  • You and your counsellor will be able to see and hear each other.
  • You are communicating in the here and now with your counsellor as you experience a range of thoughts and feelings, so your counsellor can be alongside you during this process.
  • You may already be familiar and comfortable using this type of technology as a method of engaging with other people.

Cons include:

  • As you and your counsellor will be able to see and hear each other, you may prefer the increased sense of anonymity provided by one of the other options.
  • If you chose this method, it is essential that you have a private environment where you cannot be seen or overheard and that your camera, microphone/speakers or headset are compatible with Canvas and in good working order.

Whichever method you choose, you will be subject to the University's IT User Policy, it is not recommended that you are actively mobile on your device during counselling and it is essential that you remember to log out of sessions (not just close the browser window).