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It’s time to rethink the norms and face the new realities

ACTO patron Anne Stokes and champion of online therapy is challenging our profession to think differently

Over the years many of you will have heard of, listened to presentations at conferences, read books or articles by or indeed spoken to Anne Stokes. Anne is a passionate advocate of online counselling and psychotherapy and a practitioner of online work since the late 1990’s. Earlier this year, we were delighted when Anne accepted our invitation to become a patron of ACTO in recognition of her service to the profession.

Last month, you may have read about our plans to refresh our organisation for the challenges which lay ahead, as the online community grows to accommodate the environment, we now work in.

In July, I therefore invited Anne to give a presentation to the ACTO Board. Anne’s experience in the field of online psychotherapy and counselling is immense. Her book Online Supervision (Psychotherapy 2.0) is undoubtedly a must-read text for all online practitioners.  I wanted to give Anne the opportunity of challenging our organisation to embrace the new opportunities and help us to overcome the hurdles presented following the global pandemic. Since March, we have experienced significant membership growth in ACTO and of course thousands of psychotherapists and counsellors have migrated from face-to-face sessions to meeting with clients online.

I thought I would share one of the key points that Anne made: –

“The COVID-19 pandemic feels like it is a real watershed moment for the online counselling and therapy profession, turning our world upside down.

“In recent years, the number of therapists practising online has increased significantly. However, since March these numbers have grown exponentially. Many practitioners are now working online – because they have to. We need to respond to that, bringing people into our online community.

“For example, how are we going to ensure a consistently high quality of service to clients as those offering counselling and therapy online increases substantially? We must reach out to training providers and encourage people who may do things differently, whilst maintaining our ethical standards and values.”

Many of us have been working online for a period of time. Sometimes – given our enthusiasm and passion for online working – it can be difficult to understand the steep learning curve and issues facing other therapists who are new to this form of working. Our response must be inclusive and positive: supporting practitioners and those in the field of training, with the key objective of raising standards and ensuring the quality of our work.  

Anne’s contribution is timely. We have recently set ourselves new goals and aspirations to raise standards and encourage discussion and debate, as we welcome more members into our online community. Anne is encouraging us to do more – and to rethink how we do it.

Inspiring words. And words which we will translate into action.

Thank you, Anne.

Adrian M Rhodes

Chair, ACTO

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Can online therapy mitigate coronavirus?

There’s no getting away from the news that is dominating the press at the moment. We are experiencing a global pandemic of Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), an illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s widespread and it’s a public health crisis.

The UK government has implemented special measures in an attempt to contain and mitigate the virus. Public Health England is advising health professionals, businesses, schools and other organisations to protect yourself and others against the spread of Coronavirus. Working arrangements might have to change.

This level of extreme disruption, challenges and disaster we are faced with will increase demand for the services provided by therapy and coaching professionals and also the way in which therapy is delivered. Online Therapy could be the answer for many health professionals due to its low risk in terms of spreading disease. But are you equipped to carry out your therapy business online?

Having a resilience and disaster recovery plan in place means business can continue even when work practices change. But not many small businesses already have one of those in place. The government has published free downloadable guidance on business continuity planning.

Private Practice Hub is a UK leading business information and advice website designed to help small business owners, therapists and coaches run a business.

In addition to this resource we also bring you the Online Therapy Hub website which is specifically for those already working online or contemplating this way of working. We offer tips and resources to point you in the right direction and aim to help you develop your online presence, then your online practice and, perhaps ultimately, the way you work therapeutically online.

We can help you with the tools you need to coordinate all you do and operate efficiently as an online therapist wherever you might be working. From understanding and engaging potential clients, marketing yourself in a digital world and making sure you have sufficient security measures and software in place to protect clients confidentiality, data and privacy.

Membership is absolutely free with access to a variety of articles and resources ranging from the very basics to the more advanced including business plans, marketing strategies, financial advice, administration, support on professional issues and exclusive special offers. Join here today.

We’re here to support you in maintaining the effectiveness of your professional therapy or coaching activity wherever you might be working. Get in touch today to find out more info@privatepracticehub.co.uk.