Frequently Asked Questions

Read our Frequently Asked Questions to find out more about this Online Counselling Service.

About online counselling

 

What is online counselling?

Counselling involves talking about any difficulties or challenges you are experiencing. It is a supportive and collaborative environment where you can discuss your problems and concerns, working on what you identify as most important. It can help you find positive ways to manage your situation.

Participating in counselling can help you clarify your situation, gain new perspectives and work towards change. The counselling process can support you to develop insights, generate solutions and consider choices.

Online counselling is a form of counselling that is provided online, through the internet. Online counselling is known by a number of different names, including e-therapy, web counselling and online therapy. It can be provided in a number of different ways, such as through chat messages, email and through video.

This Online Counselling Service, provided by Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV), provides anyone, anywhere, the opportunity to access support through a chat message, typing-based counselling support. This involves you and your counsellor sending typed, text-based chat messages to each other using secure, private chat software, during a pre-booked appointment.

This service does not involve video-based counselling.

 

How does this Online Counselling Service work?

This service is provided online, through a chat message typing-based program. Although you can’t see your counsellor, as you would in face-to-face or video counselling, the way in which counselling works is very similar.

Our counsellors will help you to discuss and work through any difficulties or challenges you are experiencing. They will listen to your concerns, and provide practical advice and resources to support you to find ways to manage your situation.

This takes place through an online program that allows you and your counsellor to send messages to each other, in real-time.

 

Is online counselling effective?

Research shows online therapy, including online counselling, is an effective means of support, and it is often as effective as face-to-face counselling. Online counselling can be an accessible, confidential and convenient way to get support, or explore your concerns.

One of the important things for counselling to work is for you and your counsellor to establish a good relationship, also known as a therapeutic alliance. This means that you and your counsellor can communicate well and develop a level of trust, warmth and shared understanding of your situation. This enables you and your counsellor to explore your current needs and develop clear goals. A strong therapeutic alliance is a key factor in a successful counselling experience.

Some studies suggest that online therapy, such as counselling may actually make it easier for a person to connect with their counsellor. It can be easier to raise concerns in a confidential online setting. For some people, writing is an easier or more expressive form of communication; helping a person to consider and reflect on their thoughts before sending their message to their counsellor.

 

Why use online counselling?

People use online counselling for a number of different reasons. Some of the common reasons include because it is:

  • Convenient – counselling is available when and where it suits you.
  • Private and anonymous – you don’t have to visit a centre or talk to someone in person
  • Timely – you can book an appointment immediately
  • Text-based – you can think about what you want to say before sending your message to your counsellor
  • Online – some people prefer working and interacting in the online environment.

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Who can use online counselling?

 

Who can use online counselling?

Online counselling offers a private and convenient alternative to face-to-face counselling services. It can be used by people who want support with a broad range of issues, however it is not suitable for everyone.

The service is only for individuals over the age of 18. It is not suitable for couples.

It is not a crisis service, and is not appropriate for people who are currently experiencing family violence and are in immediate danger. If you are in immediate danger, please contact the Police on 000 in Australia.

To get the most out of online counselling, you will need to have access to a computer, have a good understanding of how to use a computer and be able to type at a reasonable speed.

 

What can online counselling be helpful for?

Online counselling can be helpful for a range of concerns, challenges or problems – both big and small. It can support you to develop insights, generate solutions and consider your choices. Our Online counsellors will listen to you and help you to clarify your situation.

Online counselling can be helpful for talking about and working through issues such as:

  • managing stress
  • life changes
  • mental health issues
  • parenting concerns
  • managing emotions, such as anger
  • grief and loss
  • work-related stress and issues.

Although this service is for individuals only, not couples, it can also be helpful for a person to talk about relationship difficulties or experiences of separation and divorce, including parenting after separation.

 

Can people under 18 years of age access this Online Counselling Service?

Only people aged 18 years and older can access this service.

Young people aged 18 years and under can find a range of information on our website for young people.

Young people and their families who are experiencing a tough time can also access eheadspace – an online and telephone support service.

 

Is online counselling for couples available?

This service is only for individuals. A number of relationship or couple counselling services are offered in our centres. For more information, visit our Relationships Australia Victoria website.

 

Is this Online Counselling Service right for me?

If you want to talk about concerns you may have or what’s going on in your life with a professional, our service may be suitable for you.

This service, however, is not a crisis service.

If you are experiencing family violence and are in immediate danger, please call 000. If you are not in immediate danger but are affected by family violence, we recommend you contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for support and advice in Australia. In instances where you are not in immediate danger, we can also support you to get the right assistance in your life.

This Online Counselling Service is not appropriate if you are having thoughts of hurting yourself or others, or are in need of immediate assistance. In an emergency, please contact the Police on 000 in Australia. For crisis support, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 in Australia.

 

Can I get access to an interpreter?

Unfortunately this service is not appropriate if an interpreter is required. If you require urgent help, call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and ask to speak to Lifeline in the language required.

 

Is this Online Counselling Service safe?

We take seriously our commitment to the privacy of your personal information. Our Online Counselling Service client data is stored securely. While every effort will be made to ensure client data remains protected and secure, we cannot guarantee that any online data you transmit to us is fully secure.

If you believe that participating in this Online Counselling Service may put your safety at risk because of current family violence, you may need to consider alternative service options. If you are in immediate danger, please call the Police on 000 in Australia. If you are not in immediate danger, we recommend you contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for support and advice in Australia.

It is important to understand that by using this service:

  • You will receive emails and a text message reminder about your appointments.
  • The appointment cost will appear on your credit card statement as “Relationships Aus Vic”.
  • Depending on your computer or browser settings, access of this service may appear in your internet browsing history.

A “Quick Exit” button is available on the service. This will close the current browser tab you have open and display the Google homepage.

 

If I need more support after an online counselling appointment, what do I do?

After an appointment, you’ll receive an email from us with a link to make another Online Counselling Service appointment if you’d like to. You can also make another appointment at any time on our website here.

Alternatively, you can make an appointment for face-to-face counselling in one of our Relationships Australia Victoria centres. Find your nearest location on our website here.

If you need urgent help, please contact one of the following services in Australia.

Police
If you feel unsafe or are concerned about someone else’s safety, contact the Police in your state or territory, or call 000 in Australia in an emergency.

Lifeline
A 24-hour crisis support service.
Visit www.lifeline.org.au or call 13 11 14 in Australia.

SuicideLine
Free, anonymous 24/7 support across Victoria, Australia.
Visit www.suicideline.org.au or call 1300 651 251 in Australia.

1800 RESPECT
A national counselling helpline, information and support 24/7.
Visit www.1800respect.org.au or call 1800 737 732 in Australia.

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Costs and payments

 

How much does online counselling cost?

Each 50-minute online counselling appointment costs $50. No goods and services tax (GST) is applied to this fee.

 

How do I pay for online counselling?

Payments for online counselling appointments are made online, via credit card, using Stripe. Stripe is a secure platform that allows us to accept payments online, so that you can instantly make and confirm your online counselling appointment.

The appointment cost will appear on your credit card statement as “Relationships Aus Vic”.

After your payment is received, you will receive an email with a link to your receipt.

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Appointments

 

When is online counselling available?

Online counselling appointments are generally offered on weekday evenings and on Saturday mornings. Appointments are available on a number of different days and times, with different online counsellors. Available appointments are listed up to 4 weeks in advance.

You can view currently available online counselling appointments here.

 

Do I have to make an appointment for online counselling?

Yes, our Online Counselling Service is appointment-based. Appointments must be made at least two hours before the appointment time. You can view currently available online counselling appointments here.

This is not a crisis service. If you need crisis support, a list of available services is Australia is provided in a Frequently Asked Question below.

 

How do I get started and make an appointment?

It’s easy to get started. Simply choose your appointment time and the online counsellor you’d like to chat with through instant messaging, and pay for your appointment. You’ll receive email confirmation from us and we’ll remind you two days and two hours before you appointment.

 

What happens before my appointment?

Once you make an appointment, you will receive an email with a link to some short questions to help us understand how we can best support you during your appointment.

Closer to your appointment, we will send you reminders about your appointment via email and an SMS text message to your mobile phone.

 

What happens after my appointment?

After your appointment, you will receive an email from your counsellor with some ideas to try out, along with any resources or links that may be relevant.

We want to know about your experience of our online counselling service too, so we will ask you to provide feedback about how your appointment helped you.

 

What happens if I need to cancel or reschedule an appointment?

You can cancel or reschedule your appointment, without charge, if at least 24 hours’ notice is given before your scheduled appointment time. If you cancel or reschedule your appointment less than 24 hours before your appointment time, or do not attend your scheduled appointment, the appointment fee will not be refunded.

You can cancel or reschedule your appointment by logging in to the Online Counselling Service or through the confirmation or reminder emails you received.

Please note: Where you have cancelled an appointment more than 24 hours before the appointment start time, a refund will be issued. Refund requests are submitted to your bank within two (2) business days. You will see the refund as a credit approximately 7-12 business days later, depending upon the bank.

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About the counsellors and service

 

Who are the counsellors?

Our online counsellors are experienced and qualified professionals, based in Australia. They hold appropriate tertiary qualifications such as in psychology, social work and family therapy, counselling and other related disciplines.

Our counsellors have experience across a wide range of wellbeing issues that affect individuals, relationships and families, including relationship issues, separation and divorce, mental health, managing stress, emotions and life changes, parenting concerns, grief and loss, and work-related issues.

View our available counsellors here.

 

Who will my online counsellor be?

You can select who you would like your online counsellor to be when you make your appointment. View Our Counsellors to learn more about each counsellor.

Alternatively, you can choose from the available appointments the time that suits you best, and you we will book your appointment with the available counsellor.

 

Who provides this Online Counselling Service?

This Online Counselling Service is provided by Relationships Australia Victoria, an experienced, community-based, not-for-profit organisation, with no religious affiliations. Our services are for all members of the community, regardless of their religion, age, gender, sexual orientation, lifestyle choice, cultural background or economic circumstances.

For more information, read about us here.

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What you need to use online counselling

 

What do I need to use online counselling?

You will need to use a computer or device (Android or iPhone) that has and has the latest version of one of the following internet browsers:

  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Internet Explorer
  • Edge
  • Safari.

You’ll also need a reliable internet connection, to make sure that you and your counsellor can send text-based chat messages to each other in real time, without interruption.

Although this service is accessible on mobile and tablet devices, to get the most out of your online counselling session we recommend that you log on using a computer with a keyboard.

To use this service, we strongly recommend that you are comfortable with using a computer and are able to type at a reasonable speed.

We also recommend that you are in a quiet place that is free from distractions when you log on for your appointment.

 

Do I need a special computer or device?

To use online counselling, you just need a computer, Android device (6.X and 7.X or above), iPhone or iPad (10.X or above) that can run the latest version of one of the following internet browsers:

  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Internet Explorer
  • Microsoft Edge
  • Safari.

 

Do I need fast internet for online counselling?

This online counselling service requires consistent access to the internet, to make sure that you and your counsellor can send text-based chat messages to each other in real time, without interruption.

We recommend the use of a stable, broadband connection for the use of this service. Most standard internet connections will be fast enough to use this service.

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Confidentiality and privacy

 

Is online counselling confidential?

Online counselling sessions are confidential, and we take your privacy seriously. We respect the privacy of our clients and the confidentiality of client information. Your information is held securely and confidentially within RAV. However, confidentiality is limited by our duty of care. This means that there are some exceptions to circumstances, such as if we are concerned if there is a risk of harm to yourself or to others. Counsellors must also report child abuse or anything that indicates a child is at risk of abuse.

If you would like to know more about confidentiality, please read our Client Information Sheet.

 

Is online counselling private? Will other people who use my computer be able to see what I say in online counselling?

We take seriously our commitment to the privacy of your personal information. Our Online Counselling Service client data is stored securely.

While every effort will be made to ensure client data remains protected and secure, we cannot guarantee that any online data you transmit to us is fully secure.
It is important to understand that by using this service:

  • You will receive emails and text messages about your appointments.
  • The appointment cost will appear on your credit card statement as “Relationships Aus Vic”.
  • Depending on your computer or browser settings, access of this service may appear in your internet browsing history.

A “Quick Exit” button is available on the service. This will close the current browser tab you have open and display the Google homepage.
If you believe that participating in this Online Counselling Service may put your safety at risk because of current family violence, you may need to consider alternative service options. If you are in immediate danger, please call 000. If you are not in immediate danger, we recommend you contact 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 for support and advice in Australia.

 

Can I use online counselling anonymously?

To use this Online Counselling Service, you need to provide some basic information to us, including your first name, last name (surname), date of birth, phone number and email address.

 

How is my privacy protected in online counselling?

Relationships Australia Victoria (RAV) takes seriously our commitment to the privacy of your personal information. Personal information collected by RAV is treated as confidential and is protected by the Privacy Act 1988. All personal information that is collected is stored securely and made safe from unauthorised access, loss, misuse, modification or disclosure. We have policies and procedures in place in order to keep information confidential.

When you make an appointment for this Online Counselling Service, you provide your first name, last name, email address, telephone number and date of birth to us. RAV will only use your information, including your email address and telephone number, for the purpose for which you have provided them, or for purposes as set out in our Client Information Sheet. We will not add your email address to any mailing lists, or use or disclose it or your telephone number for any other purpose, without your prior written consent.

For further information, we recommend that you read RAV’s Privacy Policy, which contains information about:

  • how RAV manages your personal information;
  • how you may obtain access to your personal information and, if necessary, seek correction of that information;
  • how you may complain about a breach of the Australian Privacy Principles and how RAV will deal with your complaint.

Information on the confidentiality of client information can be found in our Frequently Asked Questions and Client Information Sheet.

While every effort will be made to ensure client data remains protected and secure, we cannot absolutely guarantee that any online data you transmit to us is completely secure. The internet is an insecure medium and you should be aware that there are inherent risks transmitting information across the Internet. Information submitted via forms or the Online Counselling Service may be at risk of being intercepted, read or modified.

If you have any concerns about privacy or confidentiality, please contact us to discuss them with us.

 

Can I record my Online Counselling appointment?

No, recording of an appointment or any communication with a RAV staff member by a client outside the Online Counselling Service using any form of electronic device is not permitted, unless there are special circumstances approved in writing by the counsellor, and also the prior knowledge and consent of all persons being recorded.

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More information and support

 

I need urgent help right now. What do I do?

This Online Counselling Service is not a crisis service. If you need urgent help, please contact one of the following services in Australia.

Police
If you feel unsafe or are concerned about someone else’s safety, contact the Police in your state or territory, or call 000 in an emergency.

Lifeline
A 24-hour crisis support service.
Visit www.lifeline.org.au or call 13 11 14.

SuicideLine
Free, anonymous 24/7 support across Victoria, Australia.
Visit www.suicideline.org.au or call 1300 651 251.

1800 RESPECT
A national counselling helpline, information and support 24/7.
Visit www.1800respect.org.au or call 1800 737 732.

 

I’m having trouble using the Online Counselling Service, what do I do?

If you are experiencing technical issues accessing this service, please contact us.

 

Where can I get more information?

If you have a question that has not been answered on this page, you can contact us. Please note that we can answer general enquiries but cannot provide counselling via email.

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