Information for Practising During Covid-19

Last updated 13 August 2021


Coronavirus response resources

PACFA is developing resources for members to support you in your response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Generally speaking, for counsellors and psychotherapists working under 'stay at home' orders, you should be providing services via telehealth.

Providing counselling and psychotherapy using online technologies

PACFA has an online course 'How to provide Counselling and Psychotherapy using Online Technologies', delivered over four, two-hour interactive sessions. See the 'Events' section of our website and search for the next course after selecting 'PACFA courses' from the drop-down menu. 

The basics of delivering online therapy
This resource provides an introduction to considerations needed in delivering therapy online in a safe and ethical manner. This is a basic guide and is not a replacement for the in-depth training provided by PACFA in “How to provide Counselling and Psychotherapy using Online Technologies”.

What you need to know about delivering therapy online
Free 2 hour webinar. Delivering a safe, quality and ethical therapy service online requires understanding the differences between the face to face and the online space. It also requires a confidence with the technology and an understanding of the importance of secure connectivity.*This was recorded in April 2020 some details may be out of date*
This webinar includes information on:
•    How the online space can impact the therapeutic relationship both positively and negatively.
•    How do you assess for client suitability for online therapy?
•    Which digital modes are you willing to work with?
•    What are the new ethical considerations to be aware of?
•    What new boundaries need to be set up?
•    How does your online counselling contract need to be different from what you use f2f?

Which online platform should I chose?

PACFA believes that our members should be able to make informed decisions to best suit their business and personal safety and security needs and to meet the needs of their clients.

The Coviu platform is an Australian developed platform designed specifically for the delivery of Telehealth, and is used by the Australian Government through HealthDirect. Coviu has written a short comparative article on how Coviu compares to Skype and ZoomPACFA has secured a 30% discount for PACFA Registrants who wish to take up a subscription to Coviu. Read more here.

PACFA recommends that all members using online platforms familiarise themselves with how to provide the most secure connection for yourself and your client, including ensuring your clients are provided with a secure connection if they are accessing your services via mobile phone. The table below compares the security and privacy of several online platforms.


Platform

Security & privacy

Further information

Coviu

Coviu’s Video Call feature uses end to end encryption for every consultation. For more information on data security via Coviu, click here. A Privacy Statement is also available.

Coviu is an Australia-designed platform that was developed as a specialist telehealth application.  An independent third-party assessment of Coviu compared to other online conferencing and telehealth platforms is available here.

Go To Meeting

Go To Meeting has SOC3 security certification. Details of Security and privacy measures are available here.

Go To Meeting by Log Me In is a global online meeting platform used by many Australian organisations. It is not a Telehealth specific platform, but does offer free resources and supports for a range of service providers during the COVID-19 response, including Health Care providers. For more information click here.

Skype (Microsoft)

Skype now features industry-standard end to end encryption if you select a “private” conversation. For more on Skype’s features click here.

Skype and Skype for Business have made rapid changes to security measures over the last year. When hosting a meeting or conference, you can select a ‘private’ conversation to ensure end to end encryption.  The level of privacy and security available may differ, however, depending on whether participants in a conversation are using the Skype app, or accessing the conversation via a mobile phone.

Zoom

Zoom protects content using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256. For Information on current privacy and security measures used by Zoom, and tips and tricks on how to host a secure Zoom meeting, are available here.

Zoom is a US based company which holds the largest global market share in online communications. Like Skype, Zoom has rapidly upgraded its security and privacy measures, after coming under increased scrutiny during the COVID-19 response.

Like Skype, Zoom has a range of security and privacy options available which are controlled by the host of each meeting.

Impacts of Covid-19: helping yourselves and clients

A conversation about working within the Covid-19 context - PACFA President Dr Di Stow and PACFA Treasurer, Melbourne-based psychotherapist, George Gintilas

Working with Covid - a Conversation from PACFA on Vimeo. Uploaded 30/7/21

PACJA Volume 9, No. 1, April 2021:
Special Issue on Psychotherapy and Counselling During and After COVID-19: Practical, Political, Philosophical, and Cultural Considerations

September is the new November: consequences of Covid’s shattering of our assumptive world
Free webinar recording.  As a way of contextualising the psychosocial toll of Covid 19 in 2020, this webinar defers to Janoff-Bulman’s 1992 shattered assumptions theory where she refers to the myriad consequences of trauma. Within the presenters work over the preceding six months of this webinar(as a therapist, lecturer and supervisor) she became increasingly aware of a persistent and ever-present sense of loss. The micro and macro losses of the past months had taken a huge toll on everyone and had, in her experience, left us feeling, certainly by August, and definitely, by September, as we usually feel in November – emotionally exhausted, war weary and yet hopeful – hopeful that we can steel ourselves for a little longer as we stumble through to a break at Christmas time.  This webinar reviews some of the concepts associated with shattered assumption theory, and considers strategies to manage the current Covid affected life we are living.

Covid-19 Responses and Responsibilities
Free 2 hour webinar recording. There is no one who hasn’t experienced anxiety, and even panic, from the current health crisis which the COVID-19 virus has created. This webinar will explore counselling strategies that can support our clients; the wider consequences of the crisis; working with parents to support children; self-care for practitioners and some of the considerations you need to be aware of before offering counselling online.  *This was recorded in March 2020 some details may be out of date*

Free PDF documents from the webinar.

Ethics resources

Informed consent and confidentiality issues to be considered for online therapy
This resource has been developed by the PACFA Ethics Committee to guide counsellors and psychotherapists who provide online therapy. It covers some important points to be considered in order to provide online therapy services safely and ethically.

Online Resources for PACFA Members: Mental Health Legislation, Informed Consent and Confidentiality
The PACFA Ethics Committee has compiled examples of federal and state legislation regarding Mental Health, Informed Consent and Confidentiality as they stand in May 2020. Legislation is constantly being changed and amended and it is important that you check current legislation.
 
Boundaries and record keeping – Recording
Free webinar recording. This webinar explores the intricacies of boundary settings in therapy, the potential for therapists to feel out of their depth in certain situations, the correlation of record keeping to maintaining ethical boundaries and the importance of reflection and supervision to ethical and safe practice.  Free download of the PDF Slides for the Boundaries and Record Keeping – Recording

AHPA Private Practice Privacy Guide – 2020
Since 12 March 2014 allied health practitioners working in Commonwealth public organisations and private practices have operated under one set of privacy laws: the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).  The intent of this guide is to provide practitioners whose national association is a member of AHPA with information and resources so that they may increase their understanding and knowledge of current privacy legislation and more specifically the APPs.

BACP Resources

 Working with suicidal clients  
 Working with interpreters  
Working with older people  
 Ethical decision-making  
 Working in private practice  
 Gender, sexual and relationship diversity (GSRD)  
 Working online  
 Using digital technology