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.