Our Chief Professional Standards Officer spoke about how coronavirus lockdowns have led to an increase in online therapy during an interview on national BBC radio.

Fiona Ballantine Dykes was invited onto the Adrian Chiles programme on BBC Radio 5Live to discuss how counsellors and their clients have adapted to the pandemic.

Online counselling

“It’s been an explosion of availability in terms of online counselling,” said Fiona, who is also our Deputy Chief Executive.

“There were always therapists who did work online and on the phone as well, and there are people who are very skilled in that.

“When the pandemic happened we were ready to do something different.

“BACP supported our members by getting CPD available straight away through a free module with the Open University to help them upskill to be available to work with people who were obviously going through a really difficult time.”

The programme heard from former professional footballer Clarke Carlisle, who described his experience of online counselling as “incredible”.

He said: “I went and got a new set of sessions with a therapist and here is where the serendipity is.

Experience of counselling

“Had it been normal circumstances the PFA (the Professional Footballers’ Association) would’ve found me a counsellor geographically appropriate.

“But because of lockdown they were able to pick any therapist they thought was suitable.

“This guy was my Yoda. We had sessions over Zoom, that I was apprehensive about at first, but let me tell you modern technology is a wonderful thing.

“This man, he spoke into my situation. He opened up my mind in a way that I don’t think I’d have been ready for two or three years ago. It’s incredible.”

Fiona said that there may be a change in the balance of how counselling is delivered when lockdown restrictions are eventually eased.

“There will always be a place for face-to-face,” she said. “I know from my own clients some are keen to get back and others will be happy to stay online.”

How to find a therapist

And Fiona said people who want to access counselling can find a therapist via our directory.

“Members will indicate how they work, what they charge, what their specialisms are if there’s a particular area they’re very skilled at,” she said.

“I always recommend people have a go. Meet the therapist. See how you get on. It’s a very individual thing.”

Listen to Fiona on BBC Radio 5Live. The section starts at one hour, 51 minutes and 36 seconds.