APS: Guidance on video counselling
The APS has published a review of research on the efficacy of counselling via video. The article offered these ‘tips and tricks’.
Providing effective CVV may require some subtle shifts away from the psychologist’s face-to-face psychotherapy comfort zone. Psychologists entering this area need to prioritise self-awareness of how their usual therapeutic skills translate across technology. Developing a library of online resources and electronic versions of worksheets that can be exchanged with clients is helpful. CVV can also be augmented by the use of digital programs, some of which allow psychologists to access client progress. Other adjustments involve more fundamental changes, such as the use of empathic micro-counselling skills, which need to be accentuated so that nonverbal gestures and verbal encouragers are rendered easily noticeable by clients even on low quality connections. Even so, poor connections can lead to misaligned audio and video resulting in periods of silence where an encourager would normally be heard in face-to-face therapy, presenting potential for small empathic failures. Deliberate use of more selective responses that are simpler (uh-huh, yes vs brief paraphrase) and more explicit (nodding vs reliance on facial expression) can assist.
Overall, psychologists need to maintain awareness of the current flow of communication by checking in with the client and monitoring their own reactions (e.g., frustration). Engaging the client in meta-communication about CCV and judicious self-disclosure about the clinician’s experience of technology issues can be brought into the therapy as an alliance building strategy. Setting up early contingency plans for technology interruptions will make this in-session response easier. In addition, developing a handout for the client to receive prior to commencing CVV is beneficial, especially sending out a hard copy in case of a complete technology failure. Awareness and planning around the use of CVV in this way is not only of benefit for client-centred and ethical practice, but also to improve the practitioner’s acceptance and confidence in providing CVV.