I've been working with some of my clients for years, and have so enjoyed my time in Bristol. I live in Bedminster near to my office and truly believe I've had the best experience that I could have in this city, but most of those whom I've worked with recently will know that I've been crafting a plan to move to France for some time, and having been taking occasional trips to the French Limousin area to househunt.
On my last visit to Nouvelle Aquitaine (as the area is now known) my partner and I were lucky to see a house that ticked most of our boxes. We put in an offer and this was accepted. So, this throws up some serious organisational tasks for me over the next seven weeks (it's truly frightening how quickly time is passing!).
In terms of my counselling work, I'm working to focus my clients on the remaining time that we have to work face-to-face. However, all is not lost - I shall be setting myself up in France over the December period and intend to be up and running with a purely online offering as of January 2019. Some of my current clients work online only. They work with me through an online telemedicine portal which is free, encrypted and secure. (Just a note, if you are considering online counselling, doing so over Skype is not sufficient to ensure confidentiality. All data of the call belongs to Microsoft and is therefore not secure).
Online sessions are convenient - they can take place anywhere you have access to a laptop, tablet or smartphone, and data or wifi connection. This means that those who might not be able to physically travel into an office - for example, those who have issues with childcare, mobility concerns, busy work schedules or who want to work remotely due to their own lifestyle of travel or work - can access therapy where they may not have been able to before.
They're scheduled in just like regular counselling sessions, and it usually takes just a few moments to get comfortable with talking to someone via video. Those who use facetime or video calling will find it completely ordinary.
The cost is slightly reduced (I'll be operating at a rate of €45 per regular session once I'm in situ), sessions can be rescheduled for a time that works for you if there's an issue (subject to the usual notice period) and the beauty of it is that as soon as you exit the call, you're back in your routine or workday with no travel, parking, public transport or rushing around to contend with.
The other option that I'm offering from January is email therapy. This might suit those who express themselves best via the typed word - or might suit those with specific accessibility needs or anxiety issues. If talking in person seems overwhelming, then purchasing a set of four therapeutic email responses can be a way around this. It's also a great way to ensure anonymity and confidentiality, as the exchanges take place via a secure, encrypted email service (not Gmail etc) so that you can work on the real issues that you would like to bring without fear of a loss of confidentiality.
These are some of the options that I'm offering my existing clients from January, and to all new clients in 2019. I have recently ceased taking face-to-face referrals in Bristol to focus on the move, and if there are any online offerings which you think it would be good to include I'd be glad to hear of them, please do get in touch.
So for now, please wish me bonne chance (!!) and I shall keep you posted on developments on this adventure as they happen.
Laura is an online talking therapist and writer specialising in working with millennials and the LGBTQI+ community.