Sunday, December 15, 2013

Online Psychology for Communication and Coping with Cultural Issues. An Interview with Judith Zur.

Clinical psychologist Judith Zur offers international online therapy and life coaching specializing in trauma and inter-cultural relations. We interviewed her about the application of online therapy to cultural issues and geographic isolation.

Judith, can you say a little about yourself and background including what brought you to work as a therapist and life coach? What aspects of your character and personality do you bring to this work?

I am a British American clinical psychologist, family therapist, social anthropologist and life coach who has lived many years in the UK, Mexico and the USA. My personal background has made me more aware, sensitive and empathic towards people's plights, suffering and difficulties in communication and coping (among other issues). This subsequently led me to choose my profession as a therapist and life coach.  The relevant aspects of my character include true interest in people, their family histories and dynamics, caring and the belief in peoples' ability to overcome hardship, to change and to make better choices.

What are the advantages of online therapy and coaching that have you offering these services to people in different parts of the world?

Online therapy allows me to offer therapy to people all over the world without them having to travel to a consultation room. It allows me to be of help to people for whom traditional therapy is inaccessible. It also allows some people to be more open when they are physically close. People can feel more comfortable about disclosing aspects of their lives when they are in their own environment and space. For some people time is an issue so being able to access therapy without spending extra time for transport and travel to and from sessions makes therapy possible for them.

You specialize in trauma, inter-cultural relations and working with refugees. In terms of these specific areas, what do you think are the benefits of working online?

Finding someone who specialises in these areas is not easy so working online makes me accessible in distant places around the world. The benefits of working online are also that I am able to work with people who are facing challenges associated with the forced or voluntary relocation to a new culture. There are also benefits from working with a therapist from a similar cultural background as the client and or one who places a high value on knowing the culture of all clients.

Can you give some examples of who might be your typical online clients?

Some typical clients are:
  • People who want coaching on a specific short-term issue, which is problem, focused, task oriented and builds on people's resources. 
  • People who seek therapy and are wishing to resolve more deep-seated problems whether as individuals, couple or families.  
  • Individuals who speak English or Spanish and as well as families who speak both languages and want to be coached or receive therapy in their mother tongue. 
  • Those who would like their issues to be understood from within their cultural context or bi cultural families for whom some of their issues revolve around their difference in culture.
Do you have a preference for working online, for example, via email or web-cam or voice-only technology? Is there particular software you prefer and, if so, why?

My preference is working via web cam where I can be seen and also see body language, facial expressions and generally feel less distance between the client and myself. This is the closest one can get to face-to-face contact without actually sharing a room. However I have also worked using voice only, chatting and email and am not opposed to working in this way.

What advice would you give to clients who are unsure about whether an online therapy or life-coaching appointment is right for them?

If possible I would suggest that they try both options and in this way discover which process suits them better.

How do you think online therapy and counselling should be promoted in Britain and around the world?

I think we need to make clear what these processes involve and offer positive feedback from both types of approaches.

Take a look at Judith’s page on Therapy Market if you would like more information about her services. And you can sign up here to become a Therapy Market coach, counsellor or therapist.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Self-care for Online Therapists and Internet Coaches: Win-Win for Counsellors and Clients

Psychologists, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers and counsellors are heavy users of mental health services, often themselves suffering from anxiety or other conditions like depression. Self-care is particularly important in our profession, to avoid burnout, compassion fatigue and the unintended consequences of working with troubling situations. What can working online as a counsellor, therapist or coach contribute towards maintaining good mental health?

We’ve all heard of vicarious trauma (VT), the consequences of therapists not taking enough care of themselves while working with traumatised people. It’s a combination of exhaustion and absence of support or coping strategies and perhaps one’s own history of trauma interacting with our clients traumatic stories, the work setting and the specific nature of therapy or counselling work. No one wants to succumb to VT, which is why it is crucial that healthcare practitioners take precautions.

Although working online with clients is no protection in itself against vicarious trauma, it can offer an alternative way of practising to ease the burden of work related hours and add variety to lighten the pressures of everyday practice. Many private counsellors, coaches and therapists on Therapy Market do both in-person (‘face to face’ counselling) as well as online therapy and find this a more satisfying mix than just seeing client after client in a consulting room. Other health professionals blend in other activities such as writing or teaching, running workshops or training, offering supervision or even public speaking so as to ensure their workload is not all client contact hours.

The advantages of replacing some face to face client hours with online hours include less travel time and even more time at home. For many therapists and coaches, getting to work is an effort in itself and a loss of valuable private time. There is also the advantage of working when it suits you. Many clients prefer not having to travel to appointments and the opportunity to attend online coaching or therapy can make their lives easier and less stressful as well. The benefits of internet based therapy practice include more time for personal relationships and happier clients, particularly those who appreciate a choice of online sessions and face to face consultations.

There’s no doubt that online counselling or coaching can make more time for yourself and contribute to the sense of professional boundaries that you have with your clients, if that is what you are seeking. Taking on some online therapy clients can be a proactive way to reduce the stress associated with getting to work or the worry about having enough clients through your clinic room door. Supervision is still important of course, but offering your services online can be a positive way to job satisfaction and effectiveness.

If you think working online could make a difference to your self-care as a coach or therapist, register now at . For a low annual fee you can be part of Britain's best directory of online counsellors, coaches and therapists.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Long Tail and Marketing for Online Therapy or Coaching

Ever wondered about the best way to use the Internet to promote online counselling or therapy services?

The wonderful thing about the world wide web is that it allows anyone anywhere to find obscure or specialised services. Now how your website works is quite easy to understanding if you are a face to face counsellor in Manchester offering Mindfulness sessions. Or an EFT therapist in Eastbourne. The geographic location is key. But what if you are an online coach or therapist and the whole world is your market? How do you get seen?

This is where Chris Anderson’s theory ofthe Long Tail is important. The Long Tail refers to the phenomenon that, when people are offered choice, they will go for diversity in addition to the most popular items available. It means our culture is shifting from mass markets to niches. And it is the Internet that makes it possible for people to find specialised and unique services in ways that was not possible previously.

What does this mean for counselling, therapy and coaching? It means that as an online practitioner, your capacity to connect with your best clients depends on what you offer and how. But more specifically, it means moving away from being a generalist to being a specialist AND letting people know you are available for online counselling whether that be over webcam, email, chat or the old fashioned phone.

With the Internet, you don’t need a geographic base for people to find you. And your online practice must reflect this if you want to reach clients. An added benefit of the Long Tail is that you don’t have to stop at offering counselling sessions. Imagine people all over the world are Googling their problems and difficulties. They might be interested in your real-time sessions or in email counselling but they might also want to read what you have written or do your courses. You can sell other things through your website than just your time. You can even sell advertising if you want. Just remember that the Internet loves specialists.

Therapy Market is a site that promotes online coaches, therapists and counsellors. We retweet your Tweets (if they are good) and push your Facebook posts. Join Therapy Market today to increase exposure to your online practice and get more clients.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Cyber Counselling and Online Therapy: Pioneering a Virtual Future for Social Work

How does a social worker turned mental health counsellor and gay mens therapist find his way into webcam counselling? Here's a story from Ash Rehn, one of the Therapy Market practitioners, about commencing as an online therapist.

For the past 4 years I’ve been delivering counselling and talk therapy over the Internet. A typical day might involve discussing homophobia in Hong Kong over webcam, composing an email on Mindfulness for a client in Manchester and chatting around communication with a couple in Capetown. When people hear I have an online private practice they usually have many questions. This is the story of my transition to cyber counselling.

It started with enrolling in a masters degree at Stockholm University and planning a move to Sweden. My partner was Swedish and this was the opportunity to live there. Excited by the challenges of exploring a different culture and learning a new language, I had one reservation: how would I support myself in a country where English was not the primary language?

My Sydney based counselling practice had been quite successful. So when someone suggested working over webcam with existing clients, it seemed a better option than pulling beers at an expat waterhole in Stockholm. Anyone who has set up privately will recognise my reluctance to give up that investment of time and energy. I already had a website and background in telephone counselling but there was steep learning curve ahead.

Marketing was probably my biggest challenge. The Medicare rebate is not available for online consultations and my Aussie clients quickly dropped off. After a year of trial and error I realised advertising as an Internet counsellor was pointless. By the time they decide on counselling, most people expect to be sitting in a room with a stranger. I had to find a way to pop up when prospective clients were still Googling their problems.

The web gives you a global client base. That might sound advantageous but if you want to be found, you need to stand out. I threw myself into learning about ‘search engine optimization’, blogging and specialising in niche concerns. Now most of my work is with gay men on issues of coming out or mid-life and men generally around sexual matters and pornography use. Shame presents a high threshold for anyone seeking help, which makes these issues ideal for addressing at a distance.

Web counselling doesn’t suit everyone but up against in-person services it’s like the proverbial apples and oranges comparison. Many of my clients simply would not meet face to face due to the value they put on their privacy, their relative geographic isolation or travel time. It’s also been suggested that Internet counselling poses greater risks to confidentiality or client safety. Certainly some subjects are not suitable for a solo practitioner working over the net but hopefully we all work with reflexivity. Online counsellors also require supervision, ongoing professional development and ethical standards. And there are the usual business factors like getting paid and insurance. The way our services are delivered might be different but the professional considerations are similar.

The biggest surprise has been the level of interest from other social workers and psychologists. I started offering fee-for-service mentoring and also provide supervision online. When the time comes to relocate, I will continue online as well. I see the future of online therapy as about growing specialist knowledge and a sophisticated skills-base. Being available online makes us more accessible and offers choice. I’m looking forward to the future.
Ash Rehn is a Therapy Market online practitioner. Take a look at his page on Therapy Market if you are interested in making an appointment.

This article first appeared in a slightly altered form in the 2013 winter edition of the AASW National Bulletin.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Email Counselling and the Disinhibition Effect: An Interview with Psychologist Caroline Macrory

Psychologist Caroline Macrory is a Therapy Market practitioner offering therapy via email. Email counselling and therapy is becoming more and more popular as a way of engaging with a counsellor. We asked Caroline about her clients and approach and why she decided to offer written word therapy.


Caroline, you offer written word therapy through email. What inspired you to specialise in this written approach to therapy?

During my work as a therapist, I discovered that traditional one-to-one therapy doesn’t work for everyone. I spent many years seeing clients who had experienced trauma and abuse and who struggled to withstand the intensity of a one-on-one therapy situation; I travelled out to rural and regional areas to see people who had no access to other services closer to home; I also saw people with speech or communication difficulties, who found it difficult to express themselves effectively by talking. As a result, I became more and more interested in alternative therapies and exploring ways of supporting people using different techniques and approaches.

I have been drawn to writing since a young age, and journalling has undoubtedly helped me through some difficult periods in my life. So once I became aware of the evidence base that demonstrates the healing power of writing, I was hooked.

My colleague and founding partner, Jenna Mayhew, had experienced similar limitations in traditional therapeutic approaches and also shared my passion for writing. It made sense to us to develop a therapy service where people could be supported and empowered to experience the many benefits of writing from the comfort of their own home. 

Therapy over the Internet and web counselling is becoming increasingly popular. What do you see are the advantages of a text-based approach to therapy?

There are a number of practical benefits to online therapy, for example it is convenient, more affordable and you can do it whenever and from wherever you like. You also avoid waiting rooms, public transport and all the other irritations that accompany attending appointments in person.

There are significant emotional benefits as well. Being online can be empowering, and will often lead to you being able to express yourself more openly and honestly. Researchers call this the ‘disinhibition effect’ and it means that you are likely to be more confident in exploring aspects of your self and identity when online. Being open and honest is crucial for effective therapy, so this is a real plus.

Is it just therapy you offer by email, or do you provide counselling and coaching as well?

Our service is person-centred, meaning that we believe people have a significant capacity for self-understanding, self-healing and personal growth. As such, whilst providing structure, guidance and suggestions in our correspondence, we also aim to support empowerment, and we work from the assumption that the individual needs to maintain control over the therapeutic process at all times.

Counselling and psychotherapy are often used interchangeably, although they are different. Counselling is usually focused on one problem, whilst psychotherapy is for longer-term emotional problems. We use the term ‘therapy’ to cover both of these approaches.

Jenna and myself trained as psychologists, meaning that we can offer both counselling and psychotherapy. We will determine the needs of each client on an individual basis and respond accordingly. There may also be an element of coaching in our approach, although we don’t practice this as a pure modality.

Who are your typical clients and what kinds of concerns do they write to you about?

The wonderful thing about writing is that anyone and everyone can benefit from it. Although our service may have particular appeal to certain people, for example those who find traditional therapeutic approaches uncomfortable or those who find it easier to communicate by writing than face-to-face, we don’t have a ‘typical’ client.

Clients come from a range of backgrounds and write to us about a whole host of of issues, ranging from a recurring dream they have been having to a relationship breakdown or a general feeling of being ‘lost’ in the world.

How many times can clients write to you? Is there a minimum number of emails they can send or a maximum time period you will work with people for?

Clients can write to us as a one-off or on an on-going basis. As with face-to-face therapy, people are likely to experience an increased rapport with the therapist over time, along with a steady progression of their self-development through writing, therefore it is encouraged that clients do write more than once. However, there is no minimum or maximum time period for engagement. 

As with all therapists, we will use our clinical judgement if we feel a client is no longer benefitting from the service or if we think a different type of therapy might be helpful. However, we will never turn a client away as long as they feel they are gaining something from the service and we feel it’s the right support for them.

What kinds of issues or problems interest you most as a therapist? Do you have any special areas of expertise to offer those interested in written word therapy?

A traumatic experience is one that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope and inhibits their ability to integrate the emotions related to that experience. It can have a lasting negative impact on their lives.

I have worked extensively with people who have experienced trauma of one kind or another. As such, I am particularly interested in supporting people to work through these experiences. James Pennebaker’s original and groundbreaking research into writing focused on people writing about traumatic and emotional events and the results were remarkable.

I certainly believe that where a person has been subjected to an overwhelming experience and is unable to talk about it, writing about it (as long as they are ready) can bridge that gap and begin to make the traumatic event more coherent and subsequently more manageable.

What advice would you have for other therapists thinking about branching out into online therapy or even written word therapy by email?

Online therapy is a powerful tool that is becoming more and more popular. However, it is essential for therapists to be aware of the potential drawbacks to this approach. Most importantly, when individuals reveal their deepest and most painful or emotional secrets when no one is physically present, this can leave them feeling vulnerable and alone. Online therapists need to be aware of this and ensure they provide an appropriate level of support and advice. They also need to be aware of the many legal and ethical requirements of working online.

Finally, what do you think is the future for online therapy in the UK?

It is becoming evident that computers and online environments can have profound implications for therapeutic support. People are becoming more familiar with computers and more comfortable interacting in online environments, and this has become a part of daily life in modern societies.
Online therapy can be extremely effective, and it is also cost-effective and convenient. It makes therapy available to many people who have previously been unable to access it, due to location, time or financial restrictions. It has great potential for reaching out to people who are in need of support, yet are unable to see a therapist face-to-face.

Take a look at Caroline's page on Therapy Market if you would like more information about her services.

If you are interested in becoming a Therapy Market practitioner, you can join Therapy Market or visit to find out more.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

You're Free to Advertise as an Online Therapist or Coach at a Time that Suits You

Some of us are night owls, some of us are early birds. The fact that the coaching and therapy industries continue to attract a diverse range of individuals is important to our clients. They want to find a professional to whom they can relate and feel comfortable. 

This is why creating your counselling niche is so important in online therapy. But there's another reason that late evening or early morning appointments work well: people these days are time poor and want convenience. Webcam therapy other forms of Internet based psychology provide scheduling benefits that our clients are seeking.

For many time poor clients, particularly those who work in London or start they jobs early, online counselling and coaching lets them see their therapist or coach from their office or home at a time that suits them. Similarly, those who work late may not have the time during the day to travel to a counselling practice. When we are working with issues like motivation or goal setting, often we are working with busy clients. Stop wasting your time with marketing to the 'average' client. Advertise your services in a way that takes into account your specific client needs and you will reach more clients.

If you are also the kind of practitioner who likes to start early or work late into the evening, meeting your clients over webcam offers you safety and comfort as well. You can easily work from a home office as an online counsellor and not have to travel home at night. Working online as a therapist or coach has many advantages both for you and your clients.

Some Therapy Market practitioners don't just work with British clients either. Remember when it is 4pm in the UK it is 6pm in Helsinki and 7pm in Dubai. As an online therapist, you can offer services to expat British clients in the middle east, asia or africa at times that work for them. Don't underestimate your potential as an online counsellor or coach. Get to the top of Google in your specialised therapeutic area and you will be found by clients the world over!

Register at Therapy Market to be seen around the clock by potential clients everywhere. Get online and be part of the future of counselling and coaching.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Finding Your Niche as an Online Therapist or Coach

Every therapist and coach has a story about what lead them into their profession. Sometimes we share these stories with our clients, sometimes not. But usually it is our personal journeys and experiences that drive our passion and commitment to the work we do. Being guided by our personal interests is also a way of establishing a therapeutic 'niche', an important aspect when building our Internet coaching or therapy practices.

Most therapy and coaching professionals have to exercise a range of skills to be successful in private practice. We not only have to be excellent with our counselling and advisory skills, we must also market ourselves, keep accounts, maintain diaries, refer to other health specialists and negotiate our way through technology and computers. When we find ourselves time free to advertise our services, or use social media to promote online counselling, we have to think strategically: "Who comprises my market and why might they want to see me?"

Online coaches and therapists have to be particularly clever if they want to attract clients because we are not bound by geography in the same way as conventional practitioners. This is where Therapy Market and your own story come into the picture. Given your unique experience and journey, what can you offer that makes you stand out from other online coaches and web therapists? For example, perhaps you have done a wide range of occupations and understand the employment market to the degree that you would stand out as a career coach. Or perhaps your own experience with personal trauma was the launching point for your training as a therapist and now you understand trauma recovery both personally and professionally. Or have you experience with counselling for parents and are you interested in this topic because of your own story as a parent?

By specialising in a particular therapy or coaching area, you are giving yourself the best chance at rising to the top of Google as an online counsellor or coach. But don't be limited to that. To really stand out, think about what sub-specialisation you could choose. Are you a man who has overcome body image issues and now work with them as a counsellor? Are you a coach with personal experience of migration and relocation to the Middle East that you can offer potential clients? As an online psychologist, could you offer a particular service around bullying related childhood issues?

The clearer and more precise you are about what you do, the easier you will be found on the Internet. Come and try joining the Therapy Market directory and let us help you promote your coaching, counselling and therapy services online.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Social Marketing for Online Counsellors and Coaches: Reach More Clients

Technology has revolutionised how we communicate and the revolution has reached the psychological therapies. Regardless whether you are a counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist, coach or some other kind of talk therapist, you don't want to be left behind. This means you need to be on the net. And this means using social media for your therapy practice.

The online counselling and coaching sectors are rapidly growing in the UK. This is not only a natural consequence of the information technology revolution but also represents an expansion of the talk therapy market itself. According to the National Careers Service, the health sector is the largest employer in the UK and the global growth of coaching and psychotherapy over recent years is well documented. The advent of online therapy and online coaching has meant a huge expansion of those industries. More people are not turning to the Internet to solve their problems and dilemmas including those who previously may have been reluctant to seek professional help. Examples of clients who have been greatly assisted by the advent of web-based therapy and coaching services include geographically isolated and time-poor individuals, those looking for expat counselling in a country where English is not the first language, those seeking confidential support and therapy for pornography addiction and those who prefer a specialist providing, for instance, therapy after divorce or counselling for gay men.

Those who want to be a part of this new wave of service delivery need to modify the way they promote themselves. Print advertising might work in your local community to attract face to face clients but it will not attract people who are online researching their problems. You as a therapist or coach need to be there with them.

The most important elements of an online presence are of course a website and an email address. You don't need to pay someone a fortune to build a fancy website, there are plenty of free options around like Yola or Weebly and you don't need to be particularly clever to get those up and running. If you do have some experience with blogs and websites, Blogger or Wordpress are even better. Don't forget though that your email address is important too. Ideally it should look professional: a gmail or hotmail account doesn't really do that. 

But to really make an impact online, you need to step into the world of social media. The two most influential ways to do this are by having a Facebook Page like the Therapy Market Facebook Page (please 'like' us!) and a Twitter account- you can follow Therapy Market on Twitter. Just having these two means of marketing your counselling practice or coaching business will bring you into the online world, which is where you need to be if you are offering email counselling, therapy over webcam or online coaching. And remember, if you really want to stand out, try to establish a niche as a therapist or coach. It will really make a difference.

Finally, sign up to Therapy Market and we can help you to build your practice while we develop the online coaching and therapy industries together!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

How to Build Your Online Coaching, Counselling or Therapy Practice While You Build the Market

If you advertise as an online counsellor or coach you will recognise how free it feels when you can work from anywhere the Internet is available. Therapy Market is a web based directory designed to help you expand your practice and grow the market for Internet based psychology and coaching services at the same time.

Not so long ago it was common to hear certain therapists and counsellors speaking out against online therapy for a number of reasons, but their chief claim was that meeting over the net was not in the interests of clients. The critics are fewer these days and that's not only because the evidence has proved the effectiveness of Internet based counselling, but also because of increasing demand for web therapy and life coaching services. It's good to know that the confidence of talk therapy professionals is increasing when it comes to using technology. Why shouldn't those who are geographically isolated, or indeed simply prefer the convenience and privacy of meeting an online counsellor or coach, have the opportunity to do so? Therapy Market provides a low cost directory and additional free advertising for listed online professionals. The challenge now is how to best market yourself as an online practitioner on the Internet.

If you want to reach more clients when you advertise, the paradox is that you must market yourself to fewer. Confused? Here's the explanation... When you are working as a 'face to face' practitioner, your pool of clients is limited by geographic distance. Few who live in Leeds are going to drive to Brighton just to see a generalist counsellor. As a result, many of us who provide therapy or coaching sessions in person have tried to ensure we advertise that we work with as many issues as we can, so that we can reach all the potential clients in our area. That is often what is needed when starting to build a face to face practice.

But providing services online is different because you are making yourself available beyond your neighbourhood, your town, your region and even your country. Webcam makes it possible for a therapist in Birmingham to meet with a client in Brussels. With email, a client in London can easily access a counsellor in Liverpool. So with this huge market at your feet, how do you ensure you can be easily found? The answer to this is specialisation. As an online coach or therapist, you have to find your own niche market if you want to be on top in Google. Online advertising for therapists and counsellors has to promote the fact that they are online. And to do this, online practitioners need to specialise.

Take a look at the issues that Therapy Market covers. They range from concerns such as Body Image to Grief to Migration to Spirituality. The key to building the market for online practice lies in showing customers that there are web-based professionals catering to their needs. What will be your specialisation? For a low annual fee you can reach more clients looking for exactly what you are providing. Sign up today and ensure you are seen!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Online Advertising for Therapists, Counsellors and Coaches at Therapy Market

Does free advertising for therapists, psychologists, life coaches and counsellors interest you?

Online therapists, counsellors and coaches are in the enviable position of being accessible to a national, if not international, market of clients. But to be found online, you also need to be seen. Ensuring your therapy, coaching or counselling services are visible means advertising them on the Internet. That's where Therapy Market can help.

Therapy Market is an Internet directory for online counsellors, coaches and therapists based in the UK or with a predominantly British clientele. It was the first directory created specifically for online talk therapy practitioners to promote their services to the British market. Therapy Market offers you your own professional page on the directory where you can describe your experience, skills and therapeutic interests as well as outlining rates and payment options. You can personalise your page with a photograph and stand out as a unique practitioner. And that's important isn't it? You are your product, so you need to ensure that your expertise gets noticed.

Therapy Market offers prospective clients a way of searching for qualified practitioners as part of making the decision about who they should contact. It is completely free to use and there is no need for clients to sign-up. This is important when it comes to online counselling or psychology as many people want to retain their privacy when searching for a professional on the net. By advertising services such as Skype webcam therapy, email coaching or telephone counselling on Therapy Market, you are gaining access to new customers and more business.

Coaches, counsellors and therapists with a profile on Therapy Market benefit in more ways than just their directory listing. Therapy Market regularly promotes practitioners through Twitter and Facebook. In essence, this is free advertising for therapists. Payment of a low annual fee not only puts you online but your website, tweets and blog posts can be actively marketed which means more exposure for you. 

To find out more about Therapy Market take a look at the frequently asked questions. If you want the advantages of a listing immediately, sign up now and start enjoying the benefits.