Transforming my practice from a traditional in-office setting to exclusively video conferencing has been challenging, exciting and rewarding....
My love of travel goes back a long way. Even as a child, I remember the excitement of family road trips: the anticipation of seeing new things, eating exotic new foods, and especially, meeting new people. In school I studied French and Spanish in hopes of becoming fluent. By the time I was twenty-five, my yearning for this experience had already led me to ten different countries. My dream was always to live in a different country, to become a part of the social fabric and to actually experience the way of life there, not just to peek in as an outsider.
As I got older, I married and had children, then became a single parent. Although the love of travel remained, my priorities shifted to accommodate the support and well-being of my children. We took frequent trips on holidays, but remained firmly rooted on Canadian soil. I maintained the stability of a successful psychotherapy practice while they grew up with the same friends and schools in a solid neighbourhood.
But children grow up and mine are now adults. They are at that stage in life where they are independent, unmarried, and without children. In other words, they don't need me to be around as much. Knowing that this window in time is limited, and that the day will come when they have children and will need me more again, I have taken the opportunity to live my dream in the interim. As of January 2016, I have been living outside of Canada.
Fortunately for me, the advancement of technology coincided with the timing of living my dream. The internet allows for remote counselling. When I first considered seeing clients over the internet, I had concerns. Chief among them was client privacy. This was quickly resolved through research. With a few considerations in place, I am able to assure private,confidential, sessions. (See "Internet" tab for more information.) My other primary concern was the re-creation of the atmosphere of intimacy and sacred trust in my office. I was sure that having a screen and physical distance between me and my clients would set up a barrier to intimacy in the counselling session. Thankfully, this has proven to be completely untrue. My clients report that sessions online work just as well as sessions in office; some even say that they get even greater benefit from online therapy. They also like the added convenience of having their session wherever they choose and the greater flexibility of scheduling appointments outside of office hours. Several have said they like not having to drive into downtown Toronto and find a parking spot! I couldn't agree more with them on that!
The way I work has changed as well. I no longer adhere to a 9-5 schedule and I often take appointments on weekends. I like the flexibility afforded by not having an office to maintain. I enjoy being able to offer appointment times that really meet the needs of my clients. And of course, I still have plenty of time to explore my environment and learn about the culture I am living in.
Online counselling has been so successful and rewarding that I may never go back to the office.