Online support

You are able to access online support if you are studying abroad, on placement, or have accessibility needs which mean you have difficulty attending our face-to-face sessions. You will be asked about online support when you register with our service. Online support is provided by both counsellors and wellbeing practitioners.

Options for online support

We can offer online support using either email, live chat or video call. 

Support via email

If you choose to access support via email, you and your counsellor/wellbeing practitioner will exchange up to six emails, usually one a week for six weeks. Your counsellor/wellbeing practitioner will let you know which day of the week they will reply to your email. We usually request that emails are no longer than the length of one side of A4 paper.

Advantages and disadvantages of using email

Advantages

  • 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.

Disadvantages

  • 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.

Support using live chat

If you opt to receive support using live chat, you and your counsellor/wellbeing practitioner will agree a day and time for counselling to take place using the Instant Messenger (IM) function on Skype for Business, which can be downloaded from IT Services. Sessions are usually 50 minutes and take place over six weeks.

Advantages and disadvantages of using live chat

Advantages

  • 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.

Disadvantages

  • 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.

Support by video call

If you choose to access support via video call, you will agree a time with your counsellor/wellbeing practitioner to speak to them using the video call function in Skype for Business, which can be downloaded from IT Services. Sessions are usually 50 minutes and take place over six weeks.

Advantages and disadvantages of using video call

Advantages

  • 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.

Disadvantages

  • 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 Skype for Business and in good working order.

Online security

For support using live chat or by video call, your counsellor/wellbeing practitioner will remove you from their contact list immediately after the session. In line with our data protection policy, notes are made of sessions, however we will not record or save any content or transcripts from your sessions.

If you opt for email or live chat support, there will be no visual contact between you and your counsellor/wellbeing practitioner, so it can be useful to use other methods of letting each other know what is happening in the moment or expressing emotions. For example:

  • If you are thinking about how to respond to something, you may want to type [thinking] to let them know you are still there and working with them. This lets your counsellor/wellbeing practitioner know that there has not been a technical problem.
  • Emoticons can be useful too, for example smile :-) sad :-( or maybe even a wink ;-) to indicate humour.
  • The use of capitals tends to indicate shouting, so if you want to strongly express something without shouting, try underlining or italics instead.
  • Remember it is okay for you to check that your counsellor/wellbeing practitioner has understood what you have written. Your counsellor/wellbeing practitioner will also check your understanding.