Lighthouse on the shore

compendium of remote therapy guidelines and resources for therapists

There is a lot of information available online regarding the switch to remote therapy, which may be quite overwheming. In this blog post we have aimed to bring together some of the most relevant and useful resources and guidelines available, all in one place.

good practise guidelines for working online

The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy have produced a very comprehensive and detailed set of guidelines for working online in their Working Online Factsheet GPiA 047.

Their guidelines cover a full range of subjects, including technological competence, insurance, security and use of social media.

An example from the guidelines:

"6. Working with vulnerable clients and arrangements for emergencies

When working with clients who are likely to be vulnerable because of their psychological state or social isolation, it is good practice to provide an assessment of their suitability for the services being provided that includes their suitability for working online.

Careful consideration ought to be given to how the practitioner will respond to clients who become so distressed or disturbed that they require additional services or support from healthcare providers or their social network. Good practice requires that practitioners are clear from the outset of working with clients about the boundaries between what is provided by their service directly, how any additional support will be sought in emergency situations by the practitioner, and what depends on clients acting on their own initiative. Online resources or guidance may be provided to assist clients in finding appropriate emergency services, especially where clients are communicating from a distance or it is inappropriate or impractical for the practitioner to seek additional services on behalf of their clients."

online therapy and supervision
The Tavistock and Portman library

The Tavistock and Portman Library have put together a great range of resources covering online therapy and supervision. These include blog posts, such as "Doing Remote Systemic Psychotherapy during COVID-19: some practice ideas", useful journal articles, podcasts and ebooks.

coronavirus primer: how to do therapy online
Open University and BACP

This free online continuing professional development (CPD) course has been jointly developed by The Open University and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) as a response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The course is aimed at qualified counsellors and psychotherapists who would like a primer on working online at a time when face-to-face therapy is neither possible nor safe.

Transitioning to Online Therapy during COVID-19 Crisis

An expert in online and cross-cultural therapy, Anastasia Piatakhina Giré shares her tips for transitioning to online therapy now that more and more people are finding themselves sheltering in place.

guidelines for remote working with couples and families

Association for Family Therapy & Systemic Practice 

download here

guidance for moving to remote working with existing child clients during the Covid-19 crisis


download pdf

guidance for working with adult clients in isolation


download pdf

tips for making your zoom gathering more private

Mozilla Foundation

view online

online therapy: the practitioner's definitive guide

Mark Tyrrell

view online

legal guidelines and security considerations
from the BACP website

"To ensure that you can provide online therapy safely and legally, you must:

  • register with the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office
  • ensure you have suitable computer virus protection – free systems are likely to provide less protection than paid subscriptions
  • ensure your computer cannot be accessed by anyone else
  • password protect your devices and make sure they are turned off when you’re not working
  • set up an encrypted email system – for example Protonmail, Frama, Hushmail, SecureMail)
  • set up a secure communications platform for video work. We recommend you do your own research to ensure you can justify your choice to meet GDPR regulations.

Other points to consider:

  • ensure you have a comfortable, private and confidential working space, free from distractions. Think about what is behind you on the wall. You might want to consider fitting a lock to your door to ensure confidentiality.
  • use headphones to ensure your clients’ voices cannot be heard by others.
  • turn off all listening devices such as Alexa and Siri
  • recontract with your clients. For children and young people you’ll need to introduce a three-way contract to cover the use of devices owned by parents, carers or guardians
  • make sure you have appropriate insurance cover for online work" 

Of course, when carrying out remote therapy, via any medium, it is important to ensure that you are still following the relevant ethical guidelines and codes of practice for your practise.

The bpf expects members to follow our ethical guidelines in their own practise, whether remote on face-to-face, and we are here to help you continue to do this in the new circumstances in which we find ourselves. If you need assistance or guidance please email us at [email protected] or [email protected]

UKCP code of ethics

download here

BCP code of ethics

download here

ACP code of ethics

download here

further food for thought...


Zoom’s A Lifeline During COVID-19: This Is Why It’s Also A Privacy Risk

This helpful article explains some of the "red flags" to investigate when choosing any digital hosting platform, including zoom.

Ethical issues in online psychotherapy: a narrative review

By Stoll, Müller and Trachsel (2020) In 'frontiers in psychiatry'.

"The provision of psychotherapy over distance using technology is a growing market reaching many patients and therefore the risks and benefits need to be known by all psychotherapists whether they themselves practice online or not. This comprehensive review of the main ethical arguments for and against different forms of online psychotherapy aims to enhance discussion of ethical issues in this growing area."

Patient-Therapist Guidelines for Remote Therapy

It’s important to pay attention to changes to the therapeutic frame when remote sessions become a wise choice, or even a necessity. Gillian Isaacs Russell has shared the guidelines she sends to her patients as they figure out whether (and how) to meet remotely.

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