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frequently asked questions.

What’s the difference between online/phone and face to face counselling? 

 

Online/phone counselling and face to face counselling have a lot in common - the only real difference is that instead of having a counselling session in a ‘bricks and mortar’ building, online counseling sessions are conducted via our secure videoconferencing platform, and phone counselling sessions are done over the phone. 

 

You can expect a lot of the same things to happen in an online/phone counselling session that would happen in a face to face counselling session: questions, answers, more questions, some pauses, maybe a laugh or two, possibly some tears. The only real difference is that we’re not in the same physical space together. 

 

 

What’re the advantages of online/phone counselling? What are the disadvantages? 

There are a lot of advantages of online/phone counselling, but like everything in life, there are some disadvantages.

 

Let’s start with the advantages first: 

  • Easier to fit into your schedule - all you need to do for your online/phone counselling session is login or take a phone call. No need to leave work, drive to the counsellor’s office, find a park, wait in a waiting room, and sit in a dull office. By taking out the commuting time online/phone counselling gives you more flexibility in your day. 

  • Accessible - sometimes we find it challenging to be in a counsellor’s office. It could be that the office is not designed to meet our mobility/accessibility needs, or we’re a bit shy and struggle with sitting in front of a stranger. We may live in rural or remote areas and be a long way away from the nearest counsellor, or we might find it hard to get off the couch, shower and put on clean clothes. Online/phone counselling means that you can do your session from wherever you are, and no-one can see your track pants. 

  • Anonymous - there’s no possibility of bumping into someone you know on the way out of your online/phone counselling session. So long as you can get yourself an hour of quiet space, no one needs to know you are seeing a counsellor. 

  • Cost - online/phone counselling can be cheaper than face to face therapy because overheads are lower. 

 

And now for the disadvantages: 

  • Impersonal - online/phone counseling can sometimes make it harder to establish a personal connection. It can be harder to pick up on someone’s ‘vibe’ over the internet/phone. On the other hand, some people find it easier to express themselves when they aren’t face to face. Everybody is different. 

  • Relies on verbal communication - online/phone counselling relies more on verbal expression (the words we use) rather than face to face counselling, where gestures, body posture, and facial expressions are part of how we communicate. 

  • Not as suitable for young children - online/phone counselling can be more challenging for young children (typically younger than 12). Counselling for little kids often involves lots of play, drawing, and games, which are difficult to share over the phone/online. 

  • Only as reliable as your internet/phone connection - if getting good quality reception is a challenge this can disrupt your online/phone counselling experience. That’s why we ask for a phone number as backup if you have booked an online counselling session.

 

How do I book an online/phone counselling appointment? What sort of info do I need to provide?

 

You can book your online/phone counselling appointment here and follow the prompts - it’s similar to booking a table in a restaurant or using an online booking system for a hairdresser. You will see a number of open appointments and you simply pick the one that suits you. 

 

For your first appointment you will need to provide some basic information about yourself, including your name, age, address, email address, and contact number. You won’t need to provide this information again for follow up appointments as it’ll be stored securely. 

 

You will also need to provide your payment details and there is an option to enter any discount codes you may have. We keep your payment details in our secure platform and charge your card at the beginning of your session. If you don’t attend a scheduled session, or if you cancel with less than 24 hours notice, we will charge your card the full cost of the session.  

 

What can I expect from an online/phone counselling session? 

 

Once you’ve booked your first appointment, you will be sent an appointment confirmation. This confirmation will contain an online consent form. Have a read, make note of any questions to ask if you have them, and if you’re comfortable proceeding, click the button to electronically sign. You will get a reminder (by text or email) of your appointment the day before. 

 

If you have selected online counselling your appointment confirmation will contain your meeting link. It’s a good idea to log into your online counselling session using this link a couple of minutes before your session is scheduled to begin. That way you can troubleshoot any technical difficulties before your session. Make sure your computer or device has enough charge to last about an hour. 

 

If you have selected phone counselling, before our session begins make sure your phone is able to receive call alerts (it’s not on silent or aeroplane mode) and has enough charge to last you about an hour. I will give you a call at our appointment start time. If you don’t answer the first call, I’ll give you a second one about 5 minutes later. If for some reason you miss that call, I’ll text you. 

 

How long does a counselling session go for? 

 

Sessions typically go for 50 minutes (a ‘therapeutic hour’), with 10 minutes left at the end to wrap up and talk about whether or not to book another appointment. Allow 60 minutes in your schedule. 

 

If you feel you need to talk for longer, it’s best to book another appointment rather than keep going. Talking about something emotionally charged for more than an hour is draining. The best thing to do is give yourself a break - go for a walk, make some tea, pat the cat - and book in a session on another day. If the thoughts are still present and you need to get them out, try journaling or recording a voice memo on your phone. 

 

Sessions for children and teenagers are customised. Online or phone counselling usually works best for children and teens 12 and older, but there are always exceptions. We provide a parent debrief after the child or young person has spoken with us if they are under 16. The younger the child, the shorter the time they usually are able to talk for, and the longer the parent debriefing: for example, a 12 year old might talk for half an hour, and we’ll do a parent debrief for 20 minutes. By the time your child is in their mid teens (around 14-15) they can generally talk for about 40-45mins of the session, and the last 5-10minutes of the session can be for parent debriefing and re-booking. 

 

If you are running late to a scheduled appointment, that’s OK, but we can’t make up the time at the other end. For example, if you dial into an 11.00am appointment at 11.20am, we will be finishing at your scheduled time of between 11.50am - 12.00pm, rather than 12.10pm-12.20pm (50-60 minutes after your start time). This is to allow me to be on time for other appointments I have scheduled during the day. 

 

Want to leave a session early? That’s OK, just let us know. You will be charged the full rate for the session. 

 

Is there anything I can do to help me get the most out of my online/phone counselling session? 

 

The most important thing is to make sure you’re in a quiet place, with good phone/internet reception. Ideally, you would be without interruption for an hour: pop the kids in front of a movie, switch your phone to silent or aeroplane mode, close the bedroom door etc, or book a quiet meeting room in your office for the hour and put a do not disturb sign on the door. 

 

Turning up on time will help you to feel calm, focused, and to get the full benefit of your session. It also allows for me to get to other people’s appointments on time, so you’re helping me help others. 

 

Sometimes it can help for people to write down or voice record some of the things they want to cover in session, or to bring along things they’d like to share in session - this is OK with me. 

 

What can I do after my counselling appointment to look after myself? 

 

Counselling sessions can leave you feeling lighter and unburdened, but they can also be draining and sometimes quite intense, especially if we are working with things that are traumatic or particularly distressing for you. 

 

Treat yourself gently after a counselling session: nourishing food, lots of water, gentle movement or more dynamic movement if that feels good in your body. Good rest, good company or some quiet time can also help. 

 

How does confidentiality work? 

 

Counselling is confidential - whatever your say in session stays in session. There are a few important exceptions though, and I am required under mandatory reporting requirements to share information in order to keep children safe if necessary. These are the only situations where I would have to break confidentiality: 

  • If you say or do something in session that makes me believe that you, or someone else, is at imminent risk of harm

  • If you say or do something in session that makes me believe that a child is being mistreated or at risk of harm

  • If I am required by a court subpoena to share information about our sessions. 

These three scenarios are rare. Wherever possible I will discuss with you when I have to break confidentiality prior to doing so. 

Occasionally I will discuss a client's situation with a senior colleague to get support and advice on how to provide that client with the most suitable care for them - this is called 'supervision' and is a requirement for registered counsellors in Australia. Supervision sessions are confidential and so the senior colleague who I am talking to is not allowed to share any information about you. If you do not want me to discuss you in supervision, please let me know at the start of your session. 

What should I do if I am in crisis? 

If you are in crisis (e.g. suicidal thoughts, domestic and family violence, self harm) and are in immediate danger please call 000. 

You can also call: 

  • Lifeline on 13 11 14

  • 1800 Respect (domestic and family violence and sexual abuse helpline) on 1800 737 732

  • Kids Help Line on 1800 55 1800. 

These are all 24/7 services and will be able to talk to you if you are in crisis.   

How long can I expect to be in counselling treatment? 

How long is a piece of string? Everybody is different and it is difficult to give a concrete framework. The important thing is that you are in control of your sessions: if you want to stop counselling at any time, you can do so. If you want to continue, you can. If you want to put a pause on counselling to see how you’re going and check in again in 3 months’ time, that’s OK too. 

Do you do couple and family work? 

Couple and family work is not an area that I specialise in: however, I am happy to work with you as a couple or a family on: 

  • Grief and loss counselling

  • Harmful behaviours counselling

  • Supporting supporters counselling 

 

In each of these types of counseling the focus is not on improving the relationship in the couple or family itself, but on how to cope as a unit with the challenge you are facing. 

Do you work with children? 

Yes, depending on the State or Territory the child lives in. Counsellors who work with children in Australia need to have a working with children/vulnerable people card. These cards are issued by each Australian State/Territory and there is no national system. 

I hold working with children/vulnerable people cards for NSW, ACT and VIC. This means that I am able to see children (under 18 years old) from these States/Territories. 

I do not hold working with children/vulnerable people cards for QLD, TAS, SA, WA, and NT which means that I cannot work with people under 18 who live in these States/Territories. 

Online/phone counselling is usually more effective for older children (12 and up) but each child is different. If you have any questions or queries, please be in touch via email at elliekirk@letsgrowcounselling.com.au and we can talk about how to meet your child’s needs. 

Do you work with clients in countries outside of Australia? 

No. I’m registered in Australia and can only work with clients who are Australian residents. 

I am able to work with people over the age of 18 who live in all Australian states and territories, and with children and young people aged 17 and under who live in NSW, ACT, and VIC. 

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