At a time like this, when attending training at short notice is not practically or even financially possible, we recommend the following actions to help you gain the basic knowledge and skills necessary to practise ethically online or over the phone:
- complete a self-audit of the competency framework (below) to highlight the areas you on which need additional knowledge
- check the resources below for content that might be relevant to the areas you identified
- speak with colleagues and other therapists in your network who may be able to share knowledge, expertise and recommendations for books or online CPD
- reflect on the implications of online working with your supervisor, and check if they are comfortable to supervise your online practice
- go back to role play - practice an online session with a fellow therapist so you can get used to the technology and they can provide feedback
- be open with clients that you're not fully trained in working in this way and be open to client feedback on how it's working for them - explore their fears and risks
We recommend undertaking training that is underpinned by our evidence-based telephone and e-counselling competences.
We don't endorse any one course, however there are forums such as the BACP LinkedIn group where members are sharing details of courses they've undertaken. Please share any training opportunities you become aware of, as this may help other members.
You can also check the Association for Counselling and Therapy Online (ACTO) website for information about courses from ACTO accredited training providers.
This guidance is meant as an interim measure and should not be considered the same as full training.
Security and data protection
To ensure that you can provide online therapy safely and legally, you must:
- register with the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office
- ensure you have suitable computer virus protection – free systems are likely to provide less protection than paid subscriptions
- ensure your computer cannot be accessed by anyone else
- password protect your devices and make sure they are turned off when you’re not working
- set up an encrypted email system – for example Protonmail, Frama, Hushmail, SecureMail)
- set up a secure communications platform for video work. We recommend you do your own research to ensure you can justify your choice to meet GDPR regulations.
Other points to consider:
- ensure you have a comfortable, private and confidential working space, free from distractions. Think about what is behind you on the wall. You might want to consider fitting a lock to your door to ensure confidentiality.
- use headphones to ensure your clients’ voices cannot be heard by others.
- turn off all listening devices such as Alexa and Siri
- recontract with your clients. For children and young people you’ll need to introduce a three-way contract to cover the use of devices owned by parents, carers or guardians
- make sure you have appropriate insurance cover for online work
You can find further information and advice on providing online therapy, safeguarding issues, data protection and secure platforms, at Privacy4Therapists.
From our CPD hub
We're partnering with Onlinevents to bring you free access to more resources on working online.
Behind the screen
A series of six online interviews with practitioners experienced in delivering online and telephone therapy. The series aims to provide an overview of the opportunities and challenges that exist for therapists working in a technological age.
From our journals
ACTO (Association for Counselling and Therapy Online)
Working with bereavement, grief and loss
A collection of resources to support you in your work with bereaved clients.
A collection of resources to help you consider and understand the importance of your own self-care.
Incident support and working with trauma
A collection of resources exploring trauma and its effects, to support you in your work with clients before or after a critical incident.