"Is long-distance counseling right for me?"
Updated: Dec 13, 2018
If you live outside Berlin or even Germany, or if you are too busy to spend time traveling to Kreuzberg, then you may find the possibility of online counseling more convenient for you. I do offer counseling via videoconferencing, and I do believe that long-distance counseling can be as effective as if we were sitting in the same room, but I also believe that there are some critical factors that need to be there for it to work well. Here's my quick list of 3 things worth considering.
1. Are you comfortable with technology?
I will provide you with a link to a secure online videoconferencing facility which is easy to use, so you do not need to worry about that. On the other hand, it is important that you trust your internet connection and your device enough to be able to relax. If the connection is too slow, then that will be a factor that annoys you, making the process difficult. If on the other hand these basic requirements are there, then you will very soon get used to the fact that the session is happening online, and will not even notice this after a while.
2. Can you provide yourself with the space required for opening up?
And here I really mean physical space. When you attend counseling in person – even if you don't realize it – every aspect of the physical space has been carefully arranged in a way to maximize your sense of safety and comfort. There's a reason for why the chairs are standing in a particular angle, the pictures on wall, etc. When you participate in online counseling, then it is your responsibility to provide yourself with a space that feels safe and comfortable. You can only start going inside, deeper into yourself, if you feel that your external environment is safe. So if you decide to dial in from home, then it is best if you are alone at home. If you dial in from work, try to find a secure, quiet meeting room in which you are alone. It is important that you feel that nobody can overhear you, nobody can suddenly step into the room, etc. If you can guarantee this to yourself, then everything else will fall into place – we can discuss smaller details such as aligning eye levels etc. during our first call.
→ Interested in trying out a counseling method that is new and unique? Perhaps you would find fairytale counseling interesting. Read here on how it works, and why it's definitely worth giving it a go.
3. Can you provide yourself with the time required for processing?
When you attend counseling in person, then there are, in my opinion, not one but three important parts of the process. The first happens when you are on your way to our session, and you start – consciously or subconsciously – preparing yourself for it. You think about the events of the past week, and how you are going to mention them, you recall the last session and suddenly see the topic from a slightly different angle, etc. The the second part happens when we actually meet and talk together. And the third part is your trip back home or to work after the session, during which you are still processing, having sudden realizations, making mental notes for the next session, etc. These three are all important for the efficiency of the process, and when we meet online, then it is up to you to ensure that the first and third parts are still there, even without you spending time traveling. How? By dedicating some free time before and after the session to allow yourself to be present, and to process. If you jump into the counseling session from a meeting, or have to hurry to send off an e-mail right after our session, it is almost guaranteed that you won't be able to focus on the session enough to tune into yourself (and, I guess it's obvious but I will still mention it: you should not be receiving e-mails or any other form of communication while we are talking). I completely understand that we are all busy, but dedicating this time before and after – even if it's just 15-15 minutes – I find crucial to the success of the session.
If you find the above factors realistic to create for yourself, each time we talk, then you are all set for a good online counseling session! And just to clarify: these are not my requirements, in the absence of which I am not willing to start a session with you. On the contrary, I am very flexible and can talk to you even when you're on the train... (OK, perhaps not). It is simply that I have your best interest in mind and am fully committed to making your time and money well spent – by making your session as successful as possible. And in my experience, the above factors tend to be the key ones in ensuring that the setting is right for truly meaningful work.