Online talking therapy

The pandemic accelerated the use of the internet for counselling and other forms of support for those struggling with mental health issues. We talk to Torquay-based, BACP-registered counsellor Simon Coombs about the practicalities of accessing help this way.

Many more counsellors are now offering online services to their clients, which has made therapeutic support much more accessible, says Devon counsellor Simon Coombs of Working Minds Group.

What is online counselling? 

‘Online' can mean different things to different people. I prefer to use the term 'digital'. It can be on the phone, on Zoom, Skype, Teams or Facetime, or even via email. When people are juggling work and other responsibilities but are struggling, waiting to see someone in a private practice locally can be a major block. Technology means I can now offer counselling or psychotherapy to someone wherever they are, even as I did recently, to someone sitting in a stationary tractor in the middle of a field!

Are there any situations where online counselling is not appropriate? 

Not really. The relationship between the client and the therapist will always determine the degree of success and positive change experienced by the client, and this remains the case across the spectrum of communication available.

What does a client need in order to access online counselling?

Whether the client decides to use a laptop or phone, the main requirement is a good, secure signal. This is available in most locations now, even when working in the countryside. Signal aside, the most important primary aspect with any client interaction is privacy. The client must be able to express themselves freely and feel they are communicating in a secure space. For those people where there may be sensitivities around engaging with their counsellor at home, digital communication allows the flexibility of doing it outside, or in the car. In fact, anywhere where they can speak freely and openly.

Do you have any advice on how to find an appropriately qualified counsellor? 

It’s important you choose a therapist on a Professional Standards Authority accredited list, such as the British Association of Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) register. This means they meet certain professional standards, training levels and ethical practice. You can learn more about this and find a directory of therapists on

Make sure you get the right 'feel' when making your choice. See if they have a video or ask for a free initial consultation chat. These should be informal and last 30 minutes or so and you can both decide what can be done, how and when.

Other forms of online support:

RABI has partnered with Kooth plc to provide an online mental wellbeing service for the farming community. There are two platforms available – Kooth for young people aged 11 to 17, and Qwell for adults.

The platforms provide anonymous support, with access to a wealth of articles on mental health and wellbeing including self-help advice, a monitored forum for peer support and one-to-one messaging with professionals, available 12noon to 10pm weekdays and 6pm to 10pm at weekends.

For more information, visit:


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