Author: Jacob, 22
About: With social distancing measures in place, face-to-face counselling and psychotherapy has had to stop for the time being. Jacob shares his experience of online counselling.
Due to the current pandemic a lot of things in my life have changed. I have been having counselling weekly for the past few years and I was so worried about what would happen in lockdown - would it even continue? How will it work? What if my parents hear me? There were so many thoughts rushing through my mind.
Counselling has been a massive part of my recovery, so the fear of losing it impacted heavily on my anxiety. I went back to having full-blown panic attacks, not being able to sleep at night and not even being able to concentrate on TV and coursework.
Counselling has been a massive part of my recovery, so the fear of losing it impacted heavily on my anxiety.
My first virtual session was nerve-wracking. I sat at my computer waiting for my counsellor to let me into the group chat. I was shaking, restless and exhausted from barely sleeping. When the time came for our appointment he let me into the group chat, and it was odd to be honest. My counsellor kept it as normal as possible, asking me the usual questions about how I was doing. It was just different because we spoke through a computer screen instead of face to face, which was just strange.
Tips to make the most out of online counselling
It’s taken me time to get used to, but I have learnt some things along the way that have made it easier.
This is a great idea because that way there is more privacy, making sure those in the house can’t hear what is spoken about within the session.
This helps to make sure that no one enters the room midway through the session. I stick a notice on the door and a list of all my counselling dates and times on the fridge. Maybe if you don’t wish to tell your parents about your sessions, say you just need time to do school work.
I find doodling helps reduce anxiety. I doodle when I’m on the phone too.
Be honest with them if virtual video counselling just isn’t working for you. They may have ideas for other ways you could continue, such as over email or phone.
If there is something troubling you that you are struggling to say out loud out of fear of others hearing, know that you aren’t alone. Maybe ask your counsellor if you could email them before the next session to explain what you would like to talk about and that you are worried about others hearing. It is also perfectly okay to come back to it later on when you are back to face-to-face sessions.
Most importantly, just know that it is okay to be struggling more than usual right now. You aren’t alone. This is only temporary and if you have the opportunity to do virtual counselling, I think it’s worth giving a try – you are always free to change your mind if it’s not for you. If you do give it a try, I hope that virtual counselling is a positive experience for you and these tips help.
If you have the opportunity to do virtual counselling, I think it’s worth giving a try – you are always free to change your mind if it’s not for you.
More information and advice
We have tips and advice to help you find the support you need. Take a look at our guides.
Where to get help
However you're feeling, there are people who can help you if you are struggling. Here are some services that can support you.
If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small.
Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired.
Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations.
- Opening times:
Supports people struggling with panic attacks, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and other anxiety-related issues - and provides support and information for their carers.
Call 01952 680835 for a recorded breathing exercise to help you through a panic attack (available 24/7).
- Opening times:
- 10am - 10pm, 365 days a year