The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we do a lot of our everyday activities, and for Relate this has meant moving our services entirely over to telephone and digital counselling. For a lot of people, meeting a counsellor over webcam can seem like a strange and daunting prospect, without the familiarity of in-person contact, but we’re hoping to dispel any worries that you might be having.
We got in touch with two of our clients, a couple called Sarwar and Farideh, who wanted to share their experience of webcam counselling, and encourage others to consider it before any relationship issues get worse.
Sarwar and Farideh
Together for eight years
Working in IT and media
In their late thirties / early forties
So why did you guys seek out counselling in the first place?
We were struggling to communicate after going through a traumatic experience so we decided we would try couples therapy to understand each other better and encourage healing.
How has lockdown/ the current situation impacted on your relationship?
On the whole, our relationship has been good due to spending more time together. But there have been tough patches, too. Continuing therapy virtually has been a real help!
How long you have been attending counselling with Relate?
We’ve been going every week for about six months. We’ve had five webcam sessions so far.
What were your initial thoughts about switching to webcam?
We were not sure at first and wanted to put the sessions on hold. Neither of us had received therapy via webcam before and felt we would be getting a poorer experience than an in-person session.
And how have you found the webcam counselling sessions in practice?
We have been surprised at how well it has gone and actually enjoy having the sessions from home. We feel we get more out of the sessions because we are in our natural setting and can be more open with each other.
There’s been no major challenges so far, other than the fact we need to give each other plenty of space to think about our sessions before and after. Before the restrictions came into force, we would have more time apart to reflect and we feel that’s an important part of therapy.
Oh and we have two cats who are determined to be involved - thankfully our counsellor has been very accommodating.
What would you say to other couples considering counselling via webcam during the current situation?
Counselling via webcam has been incredibly helpful for us so don’t be put off especially if you’re feeling the strain or want to work on your relationship with your partner. They can be just as effective as in-person sessions. Our counsellor was great at helping us to adjust to virtual sessions and we get so much out of it that we’ll continue to have sessions via webcam even once the restrictions have lifted. Just be sure you have a good internet connection!
Any final words of advice for anyone considering webcam counselling?
Each person or couple will be on their own journey and having webcam sessions at home may not be practical or entirely comfortable. That is entirely understandable. Our message is give it a try, if you can. You will be pleasantly surprised at how well it works.
For a lot of people, communicating with friends and family through video calls has been a big adjustment. Many of our webcam counselling clients have told us that being in the comfort of their own home actually helps them to open up. It might help to practice where in the house you place your laptop, so you feel familiar and comfortable before you start your session. And remember, your counsellor won’t be scrutinising your appearance, they’re there to listen and help you.
Our counsellors can be flexible in finding a time of day that suits you, and where you have the physical and mental space to talk openly. They can also be flexible with which video conferencing software you use, so if there’s an app you prefer you can let your counsellor know in advance.
To book a session with one of our friendly counsellors, contact us.