person using laptop

“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.”

Graham Green

I’m a big fan of working by email as a counsellor. I’ve written this blog to try and explain why and to demystify what email counselling is.

How does it work? Traditionally, we book an appointment to sit down with a counsellor and we allocate an hour of our time. It’s different with email, you don’t have face to face contact and you don’t just have that one hour to bring what you want to bring to counselling. 

I find that email counselling works well for deep reflection and contemplation as you could have several days or even weeks to compose your email before you send it to me. You could dip in and out of it over time, or you could write it all out really quickly, it’s up to you.

What’s quite comforting about email is that you have the words of your therapist to keep with you, written down. Often in face to face counselling, a feeling or memory of what our therapist has said can disappear or warp over time, whereas with email you have the words to keep and carry with you. You can think deeply about the words and how they feel to you.

Writing out our feelings can be therapeutic, even nostalgic. Some of us would have had penpals when we were younger, maybe a distant friend we are used to writing to or emailing. If you find that you can convey your feelings well through writing, then email counselling may work for you.

I know when I was training to offer email counselling I was worried I wouldn’t be able to convey empathy without being with someone in real time. I was really surprised by how much feeling I could put into words and how effective this can be. It’s very much up to the client to decide if this way of working is for them. The written word can be a very powerful form of expression for some people, but not everyone. If you like immediacy and that face to face contact then it might not be for you. 

There are benefits on a practical level. If you are busy or working away you can write up your email as and when you are able. You don’t need to commit to an hour to go to therapy. You don’t need to travel anywhere and you can send and receive your email from anywhere in the world. 

We will agree on a date and time by which I will send you my email response. I will ask you to send me your email 48 hours in advance of this agreed time. I normally ask for the email to be about 1000 words in length.

I hope this short post gives you a taste of email counselling, feel free to ask me any questions. It’s definitely a medium worth looking into if you enjoy writing. 

“Sometimes, late at night, I tend to dwell on negative times in my life. What I find about writing is, once those negative times and people are written about, I dwell on them less.”

Robert Black