Preparing for counselling by video or instant messaging

To do distance therapy you need a private place where you would not normally be interrupted. You will need a desk top, laptop or smart phone.

Beth's online hours:
Monday through Thursday, 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM and 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Other times are sometimes possible by special arrangement.
All appointments are made in
Eastern Standard Time.

How to make an appointment for online therapy

Read the application form and make sure that you are eligible for the service and comfortable with the arrangements. Some exceptions to the eligibility requirements may be possible for Northern Ontario clients, so feel free to ask. Please note that in the case of a couple, each person needs a separate form. Your application needs to be received 48 hours before the first session. Please be sure that it is legible and contains your full legal name and date of birth, which are required by law. Scan a signed copy and send it as an attachment, using password protection. To password-protect a Word document in Windows, go to file>info>protect document. If you don't have facilities to scan it, request the mailing address, which is not on the website, and mail it. Please send the payment and form to beth's gmail account, beth.toronto.

Download and install Vsee from the Vsee website, https://vsee.com/. The instructions are there.

Open Vsee and log in with your username and password. Click on ADD, Invite to Vsee. A window in your browser will open; type in beth@sympatico.ca, then click on Invite. When it's time for your appointment, open Vsee and call Beth's email. Vsee seems to be more robust than Skype, but in the event that it ceases to work, if the problem hasn't righted itself in 3 minutes, email or call Beth at 416-699-5515 to continue the session by phone until/unless it is possible to continue by Vsee. You might want to arrange a practice session of a few minutes prior to your first appointment or practice with a friend.

Payment needs to be received 24 hours before each session. Most people send an interac email cheque to Beth's email address. (Instructions can be found on your bank's website if you have signed up for internet banking.) If you need to send a cheque by mail, request the mailing address, which is not on the website. Payments are not normally refundable, but one or two postponements can be made if 24 hours notice is given.

How to keep your online therapy private

Both therapists and clients have an obligation to take reasonable measures to safeguard their own and each other's privacy. Here is some information from IT professional Mike Mares about electronic security:

The security measures I am suggesting would be a good idea even if you decide not to go with online counselling. If you find this too technical, get some help from your neighbourhood friendly, trustworthy teenager; otherwise both Staples and Best Buy have technical support departments that deal with these issues.

Your computer should have all security patches and updates installed. You should also have anti-virus (eg., Kaspersky, Bitdefender, Macafee) and anti-malware (eg., Malwarebytes) software installed and up to date. A firewall (e.g., Windows firewall) should be enabled.

If you store any confidential data on your computer, such as online sessions or confidential emails, encryption software should be installed. (Some people use password protection instead of encryption; however password protection would not safeguard your data if your computer was stolen.) Bitlocker for Windows can be enabled on Enterprise or Ultimate versions of Windows 7. For Windows 10 you need the Pro, not the Home version, to enable Bitlocker. For Macs there is AppleFileVault 2. Otherwise use VeraCrypt, https://veracrypt.codeplex.com/. Note that TrueCrypt is no longer supported. If you store any of this confidential data on an external device (USB key/flash drive or hard drive) this device should also be encrypted.

A wired Ethernet connection is preferred to wireless as it is usually more reliable. You can test bandwith with www.speedtest.net.

Needless to say, your therapist should have all this protection too. Beth does. If you're considering another therapist, it's a good idea to ask.