Essentials

Whereas traditional counselling involves meeting with a counsellor at a clinic, online counselling uses the internet to establish a private video conference between counsellors and their clients. In a typical online counselling session, a counsellor will usually be located in their home office, connected to the internet via a desktop computer and webcam.

Counsellors communicate with clients via free video conferencing software called 'Skype' — one of the most established, reliable and secure video conferencing systems available. Online counselling is especially convenient because clients can be located anywhere — at home, at work, on holiday — at any location within Australia. To participate in online counselling, clients simply require a webcam (standard with most modern smart-phones and laptop computers) and an internet connection.
All our counsellors are registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) as ‘Provisional Psychologists’. After graduating with a four-year psychology degree, provisional psychologists are required to gain several years of industry experience (internships) to become a fully registered psychologist. Provisional psychologists work on a voluntary basis, and are dedicated to helping clients with their particular issues.

All provisional psychologists work under the close supervision of senior clinical psychologist, Jonathon Walker. Jonathon is director of OnlineCounselling.com.au and has many years’ experience with both online and clinic-based psychological therapy. Provisional psychologists meet with Jonathon on a regular basis to ensure a high standard of service to our clients.
Online counselling sessions are completely free for 1 hour per week per client.
You do not need a referral for online counselling.
There are (3) essential technical requirements for online counselling:

1. A reliable internet connection (please consider video conferencing uses data, so we recommend using Skype via WiFi)

2. A webcam

3. Skype software to enable video conferencing. Skype is available for PC, Apple Mac, and as an app for most smart-phones and tablets. Skype is also completely free! You can download Skype here.
Each appointment is approximately 50 minutes in duration.

Your counsellor will try to start the session a few minutes early if possible, and after 50 minutes you will hear an alarm indicating the session will be finishing shortly. Counsellors cannot extend their sessions beyond 55 minutes as they need adequate time to prepare for their next session.

We recommend you read our article, 'How to Prepare for Counselling', to ensure you get the most out of your counselling sessions.
After registering with our online counselling service we will email you a consent form and ask for your availability. You will be allocated to a counsellor who can provide sessions during your available times, and your counsellor will arrange a convenient time to meet.

Equipment

Most recent smart-phones and laptop computers have a webcam preinstalled.

If you're using a desktop computer you may need to purchase a separate webcam, which are widely available and plug directly into a USB port. Please see this webcam review website for recommendations: Webcam reviews. However, there are many inexpensive webcams available for a basic setup (for example, CPL Online Webcams).
On a desktop PC or Apple Mac computer you'll need to download Skype, and then follow the installation instructions. The installation process usually takes 5 to 10 minutes to complete.

On a tablet or smart-phone you simply navigate to your app store, search for 'Skype', and install the app.

Once Skype is installed we recommend you run a test to ensure your webcam is working correctly. When available, the director of OnlineCounselling.com.au (Jonathon Walker) will be happy to help check your video connection. Jonathon's Skype ID is OCAT.JonW (OCAT is an acronym for Online Counselling and Therapy, our registered business name).
Skype is a secure (encrypted) video conferencing system, and is virtually impossible for anyone to intercept and decrypt a video transmission between two people. Please see the Skype Security page for more information. However, as with all forms of internet communication, if someone has access to your Skype login details or has installed a virus on your computer, then it is possible your Skype transmission can be compromised. Therefore, it is VERY important you keep your Skype login details secure and private, and routinely check your computer system for viruses and trojans.
OnlineCounselling.com.au was specifically designed for video conferencing in order to emulate the face-to-face counselling experience as closely as possible. For this reason we don't offer voice-only, telephone, text-chat or email counselling options.

However, we are certain you'll enjoy online video counselling once you try it for the first time. All our counsellors are warm, friendly and non-judgemental — you really don't need to worry if you're having a 'bad hair day' or just got out of bed, we're only here to help.

Appointments

Since our online counselling sessions are free there isn't any financial penalty for cancelling an appointment. However, clients who cancel within 24 hours of their scheduled appointment time will need to wait until the following week to speak with their counsellor. Under no circumstances will the 24-hour cancellation policy be waived — regardless of illness, transport, technical or any other circumstances that may prevent attendance.

If more than 2 appointments are cancelled within 24 hours then management reserves the right to suspend or restrict access to any further counselling.
As with our cancellation policy, you can freely reschedule an appointment more than 24 hours in advance of your booking. Within 24 hours you cannot change your appointment time as our counsellors are booked on a tight schedule.
Our counsellors need to finish each appointment exactly 55 minutes from the scheduled appointment time. For example, if the scheduled appointment time begins at 7pm then the counselling session must finish at 7.55pm. Each counsellor works for several hours and only has a short time between appointments to prepare for their next client. Therefore, if you are late for your appointment your counsellor can't extend your appointment time or book any 'make up' appointments, and we hope you understand this is the only fair way to ensure our counsellors run on schedule.
At OnlineCounsleling.com.au we pride ourselves on the reliability of our counsellors. If your counsellor is late for an appointment then please let us know!

In the rare event your counsellor is a few minutes late (most likely due to technical issues) then they will usually extend the session by a short amount to compensate, but if your counsellor is more than 10 minutes late you are entitled to reschedule, and a sincere apology.
As stated in our Cancellation Policy above, there are no refunds for any reason if you cannot attend your appointment, technical or otherwise. It's very important to test your webcam prior to booking your first appointment. When available, the director of OnlineCounselling.com.au (Jonathon Walker) will be happy to help you check your webcam is working correctly. Jonathon's Skype ID is OCAT.JonW
We often have counsellors available after-hours, and you can check the usual availability for each counsellor on their individual profile page.
While it's your counsellor's job to ask the right questions to understand your present circumstances, there are some simple preparations that can help you make the most of your sessions. We've written an article detailing several pre-counselling strategies, which include:

(1) Think about why you seek counselling: To help with a specific issue? To receive emotional support during a particularly tough time? Or to simply talk with a caring person at the end of a hard day?

(2) Determine the triggers for changes in your mood. Most people seek counselling for emotional issues, and identification of the triggers for shifts in mood are very helpful. For example, you might find you're more argumentative with your partner after a stressful day at work. These simple insights help a lot with counselling.

(3) Assess who are the most influential people in your life, current and past. Humans are social creatures by nature, and the people we spend time with are important moderators of our emotional states and attitudes.

(4) Are there any significant events in the past that influence how you're feeling now? You certainly don't need to disclose past negative events or traumas in your first counselling session (or at all), but it's helpful to acknowledge (but not dwell on) past experiences that have shaped your beliefs and coping behaviours.

(5) If you've done counselling or therapy before then your counsellor will be interested to know which strategies worked for you, and what didn't.

All of the above points are completely optional — the most critical preparation for online counselling is to ensure your webcam is working correctly.
If you need to contact a counsellor regarding an administration issue, then please email your counsellor directly. If you have any issues with your particular counsellor then please message the director of the counselling service, clinical psychologist Jonathon Walker.

We encourage our clients to discuss all therapeutic issues during their online consultations, as counsellors don't have spare time between sessions to respond to emails (or messages sent via Skype). As stated in this FAQ (see section above), we don't offer counselling via email, therefore counsellors cannot respond to emails asking for advice.
For counselling to be effective there needs to be a good 'fit' between a counsellor and their client. All of our counsellors are warm, friendly, and professional, but sometimes a fundamental difference in personalities can lead to ineffective communication between a counsellor and client. In this case please contact the director of the service, clinical psychologist Jonathon Walker. Our counsellors understand the importance of therapeutic rapport and won't be offended if you decide to change your counsellor.

Reports, Letters, Documentation

Our counsellors specialise in therapy and are not authorised to provide any letters or reports, as they are often used for legal or Centrelink purposes. If you require supporting letters or reports for court / Centrelink / WorkCover / disability support / work sick leave / university / etc then please arrange to see a local psychologist in-person.

Confidentiality

As a client you have the absolute right to confidentiality of your information. You are assured that all personal information gathered by OnlineCounselling.com.au will remain confidential and secure.

However, it is important to know there are exceptions in which all psychologists and counsellors are mandated (by law) to break confidentiality. This can occur when:

1. The information you have given to your psychologist or counsellor is subpoenaed (officially requested) by a court of law.

2. Failure to disclose the information would place you or another person at serious risk of harm.

3. Your prior approval has been obtained to:

a) provide a written report to another professional or agency, eg. a GP or a lawyer; or

b) discuss the material with another person, eg. a parent or employer.
Counsellors and clients are strictly forbidden to record their Skype sessions.

Miscellaneous

If you're a provisional psychologist seeking an internship then we encourage you to contact us. We have high standards for ethics, professionalism and expertise, and look forward to meeting counsellors with these qualities.
OnlineCounselling.com.au is completely self-funded without any connection to government or external organisations.
Certainly, by following us on Facebook you'll be updated if we offer enhancements to our services or when our staff write new articles. We won't fill your Facebook feed with meaningless memes, just the occasional update as interesting new insights emerge in the world of counselling and psychology.
The site is managed by the founder, senior clinical psychologist Jonathon Walker, and you can contact Jonathon directly via the About Us page. As Jonathon has worked in the field of mental health for many years he understands what clients need from a counselling service.

Would you like to view our counsellor profiles? Please click here!