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By now, it is likely that you have heard of online counselling, and may be wondering whether its right for you.

In the past, it was often difficult to get to help for mental health challenges. A lack of information and the stigma of visiting a psychologist would often get in the way.

For an increasing number of people help is becoming easier to find and use. Online video counselling has made finding and talking to a trained mental healthcare professional easier than ever.

Here, we try to answer the questions you might have.

Does online counselling work?

An important factor for you when deciding whether to use online therapy will be whether it works or not.

With advances in technology and training, online video counselling is more effective than ever, especially so when the right tools are used. Counsellors are also now more aware of when and when not to use online tools as part of their work.

Using a high quality and secure video connection a therapist is able provide effective psychological care and counselling in the majority of cases.

Psychotherapists generally report that they can see and hear their client sufficiently well. This is especially true where both parties on the call are used to communicating online. Given the number of us that use Video Conferencing at work, or to “FaceTime” or “Skype” the family, many more of us are getting comfortable with online video each day.

Regulatory standards now usually require a therapist to offer you exactly the same standards and duty of care as would be afforded to you if you visited them in their own clinic. The only thing that changes is that you aren’t physically in their office. Being online should not equate to reduced standards if you use a reputable experienced online therapist.

Speaking more broadly, 65% of those surveyed in America report that their comfort levels with online and video technology are high enough that they would consider an online session for their next appointment with their medical practitioner.

Being able to book, pay and visit your therapist from the comfort of your home, or safe place is an added advantage for many. No more visiting a remote office, appointments squeezed into your working day, or worried that someone might see you. Instead with a few clicks you can browse available appointments, and have your appointment whenever, and from wherever you want. This is especially useful for those that suffer from any form of anxiety, or even those who don’t like making phone calls. Effective and affordable Psychology is now available.

Your Counsellor or Therapist will let you know if online counselling isn’t right for you

Generally online counselling is suitable for mood disorders where something is affecting your levels of happiness or is impacting your ability to achieve goals including sustain relationships and career objectives.

Anxiety, Depression, parenting, eating, sleeping, trauma, anger, relationship problems, family conflicts, self-esteem etc are all typical uses of online counselling.

Not everyone is suited to online video counselling. As with all forms of Psychology, your therapist will help you understand whether online appointments are right for you.

Online video counselling would not for instance be suitable for those affected by serious psychiatric disorders or experiencing thoughts of harming themselves or others. It is also not suitable for use in emergency situations.

What to look for when choosing your online counselling

Select a Counsellor who is experienced at using online counselling. They will know how to ensure your safety and confidentiality at all times. Importantly they will know when not to use online counselling, and how to communicate in a way that gets the very best.

An experienced online counsellor will be mindful that your use of Online Video Counselling should be known only to you and your counsellor, and will use a service that ensures that. Whilst offering great quality, and encrypted video conferencing, Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and their equivalents have some weak spots that may leave evidence of your session behind. Better are those companies that use products that are able to achieve HIPAA standards (the regulatory standard covering technology used for medical practice). Example products that can meet this standard are VSEE and ZOOM, although others are available.

Getting ready for your online session

In order to get the best from the session that you have booked with your therapist you should find somewhere suitable for doing your sessions from. Typically this would be:

* A comfortable place
* Somewhere free from distractions
* Somewhere where you can be alone and your needs for confidentiality can be respected

Importantly you should make sure that you are ready for your call prior to your session. Generally this means checking that your device is connected to the internet with a faster enough link, and that you have downloaded any necessary applications or software. If you can FaceTime, Skype or watch Netflix or similar on your device it will almost certainly support your online video counselling or therapy session.

Generally your Therapist will tell you what you need to do in their welcome and appointment confirmation emails to you after you book. They may even send you a questionnaire for completion before your first session. If you have any queries, call their office before the start of your appointment. After all, you don’t want to waste the previous time that you have booked and paid for on getting a connection working.

Choosing Aspire Counselling as your online video Psychotherapy and Counselling partner

Maria Luedeke of Aspire Counselling is a highly qualified counsellor who has lived and worked in America, Europe and Asia. Maria has extensive experience providing counselling to both locals and expats in Singapore and overseas. These days Maria conducts much of her work online and as such has become highly experienced in using online video counselling.

Importantly Aspire Counselling uses tools that support compliance with regulatory requirements over patient confidentiality in Singapore and the US where the HIPPA requirements are standard. Such standards meet the requirements of most countries and offer you the comfort that your information will be maintained in a secure and confidential manner.

For online booking we use the highly regarded Acuity Scheduling. Payments are taken via PayPal, and online counselling sessions use VSee a specialist video conferencing tool used widely by Doctors.

Contact Aspire Counselling today and book an appointment with Maria either through our website http://aspirecounselling.net or by emailing marialuedeke@aspirecounselling.net

Life was never intended to be an incomplete difficult jigsaw.

Although it sometimes feels just like that. A little extra help can be useful when you are needing to find direction in your life or to put the pieces of a puzzle together.

By talking about what you are experiencing to an experienced Psychotherapist you can often find the clarity you need and find your own way forward. At Aspire Counselling we focus on helping you realise your goals and living an empowered, fulfilled life.

Book an appointment online today at https://aspirecounselling.net or call 656570 2781, email  marialuedeke@aspirecounselling.net

The signs of depression and what to do next

The symptoms of depression can vary depending upon the individual, age and gender. Even if you can spot the symptoms in yourself, they may be difficult to spot in others, particular when the individual becomes adept at “putting on a brave face” and pretending to the world (and sometimes themselves) that everything is ok.

In men there may be feelings of persistent anger, short-temperedness or frustration. Women may feel sadness, emptiness and loneliness. Children and teens experiencing depression may feel anxiety, fatigue, anger and withdrawal.

There are a number of general signs counsellors and therapists look out for to make a diagnosis.

These include:
• Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness or excessive sleeping
• Irritability and restlessness
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies that were once pleasurable, including sex
• Overeating or loss of appetite Persistent aches, pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease with treatment
• Persistent sadness, anxiousness or feelings of emptiness
• Thoughts of suicide and suicide attempts
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details or making decisions
• Fatigue and decreased energy
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
• Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism

Getting help is important, because depression tends to worsen over time, and research has shown that the sooner people seek help, the better the long-term outcome.

If you’ve experienced any of the above symptoms continually for two to four weeks, or if they’re impacting your daily routines or relationships, it’s time to check in with a qualified medical practitioner or mental health professional.

What can you do if you are affected by the symptoms of depression

The first step to managing mental health is likely to be a visit to your GP. A full medical history can first be taken, in order to rule out and treat any physical disease or disorder that can cause symptoms of depression.

A full personal and mental health history of yourself and your family will also be done, including alcohol and drug usage habits. Your doctor will then ask about your symptoms, their duration and severity. “If you’ve experienced these symptoms in the past, the practitioner will want to know how they were treated”.

Treatment for depression

There are three main ways that depression is treated: by antidepressant medication, psychotherapy or by a combination of both. In Singapore, medication can only be prescribed by a qualified medical doctor or psychiatrist. Psychotherapy is carried out by qualified counsellors, psychologists or social workers, and by some psychiatrists.

When it comes to depression, your doctor or mental health professional will make a treatment recommendation; ultimately, though, you may choose the treatment plan that best fits your needs. There are exceptions to this, however.

If the patient is a child, his or her parents would decide the treatment plan. Another exception is where the individual is a danger to themselves and shown by the attending psychiatrist to be mentally unable to make decisions.

In Singapore, under the Mental Disorders & Treatment Act (MDTA), police are empowered to bring mentally ill persons to the Institute of Mental Health for assessment if they are found or believed to be acting in a manner that is dangerous to themselves or to others.

Seeking help should never be seen as a sign of weakness or incompetence; it is a sign of intelligence, strength and honesty.

If you can identify with the symptoms of depression, you may need to seek the support of a qualified mental health professional. Maria Luedeke of Aspire Counselling is a highly qualified counsellor who will be able to advise you not he right course of action.

Aspire Counselling can be contacted, or you can make a booking for an online or face to face appointment on http://aspirecounselling.net or alternatively by emailing Maria Luedeke at marialuedeke@aspirecounselling.net

A version of this article which includes the specialist input of Maria Luedeke of Aspire Counselling first appeared in the January 2017 edition of Expat Living, Singapore.

 

Life as an expat, trailing spouse in Singapore isn’t what you expected?

Many of us have heard the terms expat wife and trailing spouse. But what are the unique challenges faced these people. And when difficulties arise, what can you do about it?

Trailing spouse is a term coined to describe the spouse or partner of someone who relocates for work away from their home base. Sometimes a couple or a whole family move overseas. The trailing spouse can be a wife or female partner, or even a man.

Relocation brings with it a change of culture, distance from friends and family, and new beginnings.  New friends, new food, new opportunities, but often also new stresses and challenges.

Many have been through this process, and many have had an amazing successful journey. But, many have found it challenging. How people deal with the challenges faced can define whether the posting overseas is a successful or negative one.

A new expat life full of hope

When starting the relocation journey, there is usually hope and optimism. There may be reservations, but the exotic location, career benefits, high salary etc. win over.  Moving tends to go well at first as employers cater for our every need. First or Business class flights for the family, hotels and service apartments all help to keep us distracted whilst settling. The luxury of the new surroundings and exploring the new location, it can seem idyllic at first. New places to eat and drink, or even the distraction of helping the kids settle in their new home and school. Reality can take a while to sink in.

Dealing with the change associated with expat life

For some, the move may take place without any real consideration as to how the change will affect their own and children’s lives. For a while, you might not even notice or understand how it is affecting you. Expats can be surprised when things settle down and the excitement of the move is replaced by normality. Normality that may be accompanied by disappointment and emotions that weren’t expected.

Spouses may at times just follow their partner, taking a passive role and becoming increasingly dependent in the process.  For others, the new surroundings can be intimidating, leading to them cutting themselves off, preferring instead to hide away and stay at home. There can also be challenges establishing one’s own identity in the new place. In too many cases, infidelity can rear its head, leading to disappointment, distance and even separation. When infidelity occurs, trailing spouses can be left debating the pros and cons of putting up with it, or returning home. Never an easy choice. Worse still if children are part of the expat scenario.

And for many, there comes a sense of grief.  Even if one enjoys the new life, there can be a very real sense of loss associated with the move.  Leaving behind family, friends, familiar situations etc. can be difficult.

Learning how to manage the changes in your life

Despite the challenges of life as a trailing or expat spouse, it is very possible to have a fulfilling and successful life.  Achieving your goals and dreams should not be put on hold whilst you live overseas.

Self-care, keeping occupied in a fulfiling way, finding work, making friends, exercising regularly, eating well, moderating alcohol intake, learning the local language(s), study etc.  These are all techniques that can help with finding identity and fulfilment in the new home.

Sometimes the difference between success and failure will come down to how you manage the change. It can also depend upon how you maintain your own identity. You may find that this is something you can’t do alone. You should not be afraid to discuss this and ask for help when necessary. You’ll find that you are not alone, and many have, or have had similar feelings and learnt how to manage them.

You are not alone – finding help

If you recognise yourself, then you may benefit from talking to someone who is professionally trained and experienced at handling such scenarios.

With professional support for you and/or your partner achieving your goals is a real possibility. Professional support can also help you find your own identity. It can help you decide for yourself what decisions you should make and discover what changes in your life will help you get what you need. Professional support can also teach you techniques to help you cope and manage how you feel.

If you are in need of help as an individual, couple or family, and wish to discuss this further then you may wish to book an appointment with Maria Luedeke at Aspire Counselling.

Maria Luedeke is a highly qualified counsellor who has lived and worked in America, Europe and Asia. Maria has extensive experience providing counselling to trailing spouses and expats in Singapore, as well as working with relationship and marital issues.

Contact Aspire Counselling today and book an appointment with Maria either through our website http://aspirecounselling.net or by emailing marialuedeke@aspirecounselling.net

http://aspirecounselling.net

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