Monthly Archives

April 2017

email counselling and instant messaging

The Benefits of Counselling via Email and Instant Messaging

By | Counselling | No Comments

The benefits of counselling via email and instant messaging 

Email counselling and instant messaging is still relatively new but it’s convenience, efficacy and popularity is continuing to grow.  Email counselling provides anonymity and time for reflection.

It can provide a greater level of disclosure, instant access, privacy and safety.  It is a cathartic experience and allows greater externalizing of emotions.

It can be said that email counselling encourages the art of communication.  Both the counsellor and the client can use paraphrasing.  This ensures clarification and understanding of what has been said.

Research shows that strong therapeutic alliances are developed through email counselling due to the counsellor having more time to respond with more care and time taken with the thought process.

If you decide to seek counselling through email or instant messaging you will find how relaxing it can be to transfer the thoughts from your head to paper.  This is how therapeutic journaling happens.  It’s a cathartic experience, which is what I recommend for many people.  You are able to externalize problems; allowing the brain to make space and to look at the problems from a different perspective.  The little voice inside goes away because you are too busy typing everything down.

Email counselling or instant messaging is such a positive avenue for counselling.  There are less time constraints and more time to read and reflect.

A study done by the University of Zurich found that 57% of patients who were treated for depression using online therapy were free of depression compared to the 42% who  had face-to-face therapy.

Sometimes you may not need counselling.  I remember one person who contacted me via instant messaging. They were about to go on holidays, so I wanted to provide some ideas to hold them over.  They responded with saying they never thought of the problem from that angle before.  It was only a few lines. I was able to do this almost immediately.

The written word can be very powerful.

If a client has the responses from the counsellor on paper, they can keep going back to the conversation without fear of forgetting what was said.  When you see the counsellor in person you may forget some of the things that were discussed.

Even though there is an absence of verbal and visual cues, text based communication using emoticons usually works wonders for letting the other person know how they are feeling immediately.  There are no guessing games.  Research has indicated that many clients do enjoy the email style of counselling and in many cases the clients find it easier to provide greater self-disclosure.

Emails can be short lived or they can go over a period of weeks which is seen by the client as an extended session.  Clients also find instant messaging effective for counselling as they can still retain their anonymity and receive instant feedback.

As the population continues to become more text and internet savvy, the modality of email, texting and instant messaging for counselling will continue to grow in popularity.  It’s convenient and provides instant connection with a counsellor.  It’s about ease of use, anytime, anywhere, any place.

How do my email sessions work?

You go to my and then you can either contact me vial instant messaging and receive a FREE 15-minute consultation or go straight into booking an email session.

You can send as many emails as you like. Then I will respond with one long email back to you.

The great thing about email counselling is that you don’t have to wait for an appointment.  I will always endeavour to contact you straight away unless I am with another client.  I believe in acknowledging as soon as possible.  Each person is just as important as the next.

I know, if I had a problem I would want to speak with someone as soon as possible. With email counselling and instant messaging, there are no long waiting periods.  It’s access to counselling at your fingertips.

Email and instant messaging is the way of the future. It provides access to those who are:

  • Socially isolated
  • Unable to access transport
  • Located on the other side of the globe and need someone to talk to immediately
  • Unable to find someone to mind the children
  • A personal carer and unable to attend face-to-face counselling throughout the day
  • Preferring to remain anonymous
  • Preferring the comfort of their own home
  • Unable to find the time to attend face-to-face counselling
  • Wanting the convenience of when they chat with a counsellor
  • Interested in using this experience to externalise their feelings
  • Looking for affordability
  • Looking for a counsellor to be available anytime of day

What to look for when doing internet counselling

It is important to know the credentials of the therapist.  If they are a member of an association then you know they have a code of ethics, rules and regulations they must abide by.  You will also have a complaints process.  In addition you can be assured that your therapist will have ongoing professional development and will of course be qualified and trained in their field.

Never use a regular email such as gmail, hotmail etc with the therapist.  That’s why I use PlusGuidance.  It is run by professionals and all messaging is encrypted.

pamelaI am an accredited Social Worker and counsellor, and a member of the AASW.
My passion is about helping people change their lives.
If you need help, you can Contact Me Now via my website or through PlusGuidance.  

    Pamela Vandersande,  BSW, Dip. Couns.  AASW: 456171        


Fingrut, W., Stewart, L., & Cheung, K. W. (2016). Choice of smoking cessation counselling via phone, text, or email in emergency department patients. Preventive Medicine Reports4, 597–600.

Rawson, S., & Maidment, J. (2011). Email counselling with young people in australia: A research report. Women in Welfare Education, (10), 14-28. Retrieved from

Salleh, A., Hamzah, R., Nordin, N., Ghavifekr, S., & Joorabchi, T. N. (2015). Online counseling using email: A qualitative study. Asia Pacific Education Review, 16(4), 549-563. doi:

online counselling

Online Counselling; Why Does it Work for So Many People?

By | Counselling | No Comments

Online Counselling.  Why does it work for so many people?

They don’t have to leave the comfort of their home, it’s convenient with no travelling or parking costs.

What are the types of online therapy?

  • Email
  • Instant chat (encrypted not skype)
  • Voice
  • Voice and video (encrypted not skype)

How do I know I am speaking with a qualified therapist?

Look for qualifications. Not all therapists will choose to join associations so don’t use this as a guideline.  Most therapists will have an about me page on their website or profile.  Number of years counselling does not make a counsellor better than another counsellor who has only been counselling for a short period of time.  There are so many variables.   Speak to them and if you feel comfortable then make an appointment.  If you contact them via email or online chat you will know if the counsellor is for you by how they communicate.

Can any therapist do online counselling?

This is a yes and no answer.  Of course, anyone can set up an online counselling practice but it takes experience to read between the lines of the person you are communicating with and being able to respond in a clear and concise manner.

Some therapists are better suited to online counselling and some therapists are better face-to-face. Many counsellors manage both.  It’s what they feel comfortable with and how their clients feel.

Why do so many therapists charge so much money?

They don’t actually.  For example, if you pay $100 for a 1 hour counselling session, the therapist pays for rent, social media, website maintenance, travel, superannuation, tax, ongoing training, text books, telephone, other incidentals and organisation memberships.  They would be lucky to take home at least half of that.  After each client, they usually write up case notes.  Most don’t receive any government assistance through Medicare.  So, you see they don’t make a lot of money.  In addition, they are limited to the number of clients they see each day.  It can be mentally exhausting and sometimes stressful. And, if they do online counselling they still have to pay the same bills.

Counselling is not as simple as getting a qualification and hanging a ‘shingle’ outside their door to start counselling.  Many therapists have spent years training at university, colleges, attending seminars, reading and attending professional networks.  The training is ongoing.

Is online counselling the way of the future?

There will be more and more services that will be able to provide online assistance.  Such as GP’s, health specialists and other allied health services.

So, the great thing about online counselling for many people is the:

  • Convenience
  • Anonymity
  • Comfort and feeling safe in their own home environment
  • Not having to pay for petrol or public transport
  • Using email any time of day to converse with a counsellor

Counselling will always be available face-to-face.

How do I know my information is secure?

  1. When using online services, emails should not go to a personal email address.
  2. Skype should not be used for video or chat. All information should be encrypted
  3. If you are speaking with a professional who is a member of an organisation, they will have a code of ethics to abide by. If you have a problem you are always welcome to make a formal complaint to that organisation.
  4. Many online therapists now use specialized counselling sites which have been specifically set up for online therapy.

Will online therapy work for me?

If you think you will find it difficult to work out an appointment time through the day or with other commitments, or maybe you can’t find a babysitter or can’t attend counselling through the day because of work or suffering with an illness, then online counselling is the way to go.    If I could do everything from the comfort of my own home, I probably would.

How do I provide my online therapy service?

I use the provider PlusGuidance.  Their data is encrypted so I know it’s secure.  It’s easy to use and won’t cost you anything except for the counselling fee.  As the counsellor, I pay PlusGuidance a percentage of each counselling session.

I also provide a FREE 15-minute counselling session.  This way you can speak to me before you book a session.  You will see my calendar of available times and choose what type of session you would like to have.

How do I book a session with you?

Simply go to and message me.  If I don’t get back to you straight away I am usually with another client.  Leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I have finished with a the client.  We can have a FREE 15 minute chat or you can book any type of session you want straight away.


pamelaI am an accredited Social Worker and counsellor, and a member of the AASW.
My passion is about helping people change their lives.
If you need help, you can Contact Me Now via my website or through PlusGuidance.  

Pamela Vandersande
BSW, Dip. Couns.




depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy

What Can You Do, If You Suffer With Depression and Anxiety During and After Pregnancy?

By | Counselling, Perinatal Non-Directive Counselling | No Comments

The risk factors of depression and anxiety, during and after pregnancy


Pregnancy and after the birth is often seen as the time to be happy and elated.  For many it’s not such an easy, happy or stress free time.

If you are dealing with depression and or anxiety, you are not alone.  Approximately 1 in 10 will suffer.   Those who have suffered at least one episode of depression prior to pregnancy are likely to suffer depression during or after pregnancy.

Some of the risk factors for depression and anxiety during or after pregnancy are:

  • Lower socio-economic status
  • Financial problems
  • Lack of social support
  • Relationship issues
  • Previous mental health issues
  • Anxiety
  • Unwanted pregnancy
  • Domestic Violence
  • Pregnancy and delivery complications
  • loss

However, that doesn’t mean that if you don’t fall into the above areas that you may not suffer from either.  It simply depends on your circumstances.  No two people are the same.

Dealing with depression and anxiety not only puts you at risk but your baby is also at risk of possible neurological affects during the pregnancy and then a premature birth and possibly a lower birth weight.  Babies that are born to mothers suffering with anxiety disorders are more prone to sleep problems and temperament issues.

So, what can you do, if you suffer with depression and anxiety during or after pregnancy?

In Australia, we have what is called non-directive perinatal counselling which is fully covered by Medicare.  Which means you can have up to three sessions that are bulk billed.

Depression and anxiety during and after pregnancy aren’t just fly by night issues.  So, I was thinking how do I provide the best possible care for those that are pregnant or who have just had their baby and suffering from these issues when the bulk billed time is so limited?

I have my own techniques that I always use but I needed something more.  That’s when I decided to use IPC or Interpersonal Counselling.  IPC is a time limited and structured counselling that is very focused.   Using IPC usually takes three sessions which is perfect for my mums or mums-to-be.  If there are other issues, then we usually work something out to address those too.

Depression and anxiety are not to be dismissed especially during and after pregnancy.  Simply visit with your GP and ask for a referral x 3 visits and book in to see me now.  I am at Illoura Child and Family Counselling Centre, 31 Duckett Street Beaudesert, currently on Mondays.  The rooms are just lovely, you can sprawl out, make yourself at home and know that you will be in a safe, non-judgemental and non-bias environment.  And, it’s all bulk billed.  Just bring your Medicare card.


pamelaI am a qualified Social Worker and Counsellor.
My passion is about helping people change their lives.
If you need help, you can Contact Me Now.  

Pamela Vandersande
BSW, Dip. Couns.



helping someone to reach their goals

Helping Someone to Reach Their Goals is More Than Just a Good Deed

By | Counselling, Education and Career | No Comments

Not too long ago I assisted a student with an essay.  I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take on the responsibility but I decided to dive in and see where we both ended up.

I must say, I really enjoyed the work and felt selfish taking payment.  It wasn’t a lot but it was payment all the same.  The student was happy.  Not too long after that the same student asked for assistance again and I was happy to oblige.  Something happened with setting up payment from my end.  I don’t like to muck people around so I decided to do the job for free.

The job gave me great pleasure in helping this person to obtain employment with an organisation that is very dear to their heart.  Yes, it took up my time but at the same time it added value to my time and more value to my life.

Not everything in life is about payment for service.  Helping another human being that you don’t know is a positive motion.  Some day that person will do the same for another.  Almost like ‘pay it forward.’

When you help someone reach their goal and expecting nothing in return, it is a lot of fun and very satisfying.  So many times, people don’t help people unless there is something in return.  In the office, it’s playing politics.  In a community, it’s more than politics it’s notoriety.

I have been witness to many that have helped others reach their goals because they get kudos from their so-called act of kindness.  It’s not so much about helping the other person it’s about helping themselves.

This is a heavy burden to live with.  Deep down you know what you have done and it will remain with you for the distance.  That is such an incredible responsibility to shoulder.  Not only have you been selfish in your motives but you have introduced greed, power and a return of favour into your life.

Doing something for someone and not expecting anything in return helps to cleanse the soul.

Society is losing the art of helping people to reach their goals.  Those you work with, employment agencies, employers of course all expect something in return.  What if every now and then an employment agency helped you out with no expectations?  What would happen if your employer helped you achieve a higher level?

Anyone that helps another human being to reach their goals, never goes unnoticed. Why? They have reached a goal of their own.  It’s more than just a good deed.  They have shown support, kindness, understanding, honesty, goodwill, love, friendship……….and the list goes on.

Helping someone to reach their goals is more than just a good deed.

I am a qualified Social Worker and Counsellor with over 25 years of experience in corporate, government and human services in administration, IT and management.  My passion today is about helping people change their lives.  If you need assistance to help set goals, or to work through issues, you can Contact Me Now.  I provide FREE 15 minute sessions through PlusGuidance.  Simply sign up for free,  message me and I will set up your FREE session.


interviewing feedback and recruitment

Employers and HR need to Change the Way they Interview Candidates. Recruitment Agencies Need to Show More Respect

By | Education and Career | No Comments

Employers and HR need to change the way they search for candidates and recruit new employees.  Recruitment agencies need to show more respect.  So what’s going wrong?

How many times have you applied for a job only to be knocked backed?

The usual response is:  “On this occasion we received an exceptionally high volume of applications for this role and found other candidates were more closely aligned to the requirements of the position.”  This position was for a call center operator.

What does this mean exactly? The person who did apply for this role had 20 years of customer service experience and 7 years of call center experience.  When you ask for feedback you want exactly that!  Something constructive to make sure you don’t make the same mistake again.

You know you have ticked all the boxes, you know you could do the job standing on your head. So where did you go wrong?  Having feedback on your covering letter would actually go a long way to improve job prospects for the future.

I remember someone who applied for a position as a recruitment officer with a government funded employment agency.  They were more than qualified and really wanted the job.  After being rejected they asked for feedback.  The employment agency refused to give feedback and said it was their policy not to provide feedback to candidates.  They said to apply next time if a position becomes available.  The candidate said “but how do I make sure I don’t make the same mistake again in my cover letter if I didn’t even get an interview this time round?”  The employment agency said “It’s not our policy to provide feedback.”

I am appalled at these types of responses.  It’s lazy, ineffective, unprofessional and a total waste of a candidate’s time.

What happens and what goes wrong?

There are only a certain number of jobs.  Possibly up to 200 candidates applying for one job.  What needs to happen first up is to sift through to find the genuine candidates the ones who really want the job.

There are two types of candidates; those that really want the job and those that are simply applying to get a job.

Those that really want the job may make silly mistakes in the cover letter.  If they do get to the interview stage they are more likely to suffer from nerves and unable to represent themselves successfully.  Those who are just after the job simply because it’s available, won’t have the same issue with nerves.  So they are more likely to succeed during the interview.

I speak with many talented and qualified people with years of experience who find the job they really want and put everything into the cover letter.  Only to be rejected.  They don’t really find out why they were rejected.  Again, due to lack of feedback.

Another thing that goes wrong is when recruitment agencies don’t even bother getting back to a candidate.  That is rude, unprofessional and lacking in ethics.  Anyone that applies to an advertisement should be acknowledged.  What the agencies do is advertise to sift through and pick the top candidates, definitely not over 45 to go into their talent pool. And of course, the higher paid candidates means more money for the recruiting executive.  They also look at people who are more likely to change jobs.  It’s no money for them if they have candidates that are unlikely to change jobs every 3 years.

For over 40 years the interview process has not changed.  People have changed, business has changed but how we assess people has not changed.  Many a time I have heard that the worst candidates are usually the best people for the job.  Therefore, we need to change our interview process.

The other day, someone I know applied for a position doing part time counselling work.  It was based on a 10-minute telephone role play.  The person really wanted the job but nerves got the better of them.  Needless to say, half way through the role play they knew they ‘blew it’ and said to the interviewer “well that person would never come back for counselling.”  The candidate knew up front they did a terrible job.  Over 27 years of experience summed up in 10 minutes?  I don’t think so.

Have you ever arrived at an interview and shaken the hands of the interviewer only to say yuk?  The interviewers handshake was limp.  When the interviewer gives me a limp handshake, it is a good indication you won’t get the job. Why?  They are not interested in you as a person.  Their body language was indicative of their demeanor. They have mentally left the process.

It’s time for candidates to be treated with respect, to be interviewed in more creative ways and to be treated as intelligent human beings.  And as I said in a previous article the interview process needs to change.

So where do interviewers start?

One of the best interview processes I have seen was with a real estate agency.  They would have all candidates in the interview room at the same time.  The group would be given a scenario and each candidate would have a role to play.  As each candidate became more comfortable it became more fun.  It really was a brilliant process.  There were 3 interviewers all watching for different reasons.  It was fun and it took the stress out of the formal interview process.

  • Don’t brush off the imperfect cover letter.  I would be dubious about a wonderfully perfected cover letter.  No one is that good.
  • Push for that 2 minute video.  You may save yourself a lot of time in the end.  It gives you a chance to look at their body language and facial expressions.
  • Read the cover letter last. OR  forget the cover letter.  You can’t tell who wrote it anyway. It’s just a regurgiation of the CV using more adjectives.
  • Invite the best candidates in for a cuppa one-on-one.  Have them relax, they will let their guard down.
having coffee with a candidate

having coffee with a candidate

  • Now that you have seen their video, had a relaxing cup of coffee now it’s time make a decision.
  • Interview 2 candidates at one time if you like.  They will fight for the role.  They will do you job for you. Or do what the real estate agency did, make it fun yet competitive.
  • Make the process fun for everyone.
  • Recruitment agencies need to rethink why they are in the industry in the first place – to either help people find jobs or to make a lot of money.  If you say both then what are you more passionate about?

How do you know if a candidate really wants the job?

  • They have done their homework
  • They have a list of interesting questions
  • They don’t want to leave the interview which shows genuine interest

Ask the candidate questions like

  • What is your passion. If it doesn’t match the job ask them why they aren’t following their passion
  • If you were in charge of this business what would you change and why?
  • How do you handle office politics?
  • You made mistakes in your covering letter so why should we even consider you for the job.

Read their body language.  Many times, people don’t read body language.  Why? Probably because they are so busy jotting down rehearsed answers they are too busy to notice the candidate.

David Politis, Chief Executive from BetterCloud, was interviewed by the New York Times.  He seems to have ‘hit the nail on the head’ with how he interviews candidates for future employment. David Said “My job in the interview process is to really understand the person, what they’re looking to do in their career, and understand if we’re going to be a good fit for them. In many cases, I try to dissuade them from taking the job. I try to be as honest as I can about the bad parts of the job and the high expectations. People have decided against taking jobs after interviewing with me.

Interviewers need to take the hiring process more seriously and put more effort into finding the passionate and serious candidates rather than those who write brilliant covering letters.  Many candidates hire professionals to write their cover letters anyway so what is the point? Who are you interviewing the candidate or the person who wrote the cover letter?  Recruitment agencies need to throw out the software that sifts through the key words.  Honestly? The candidates are not droids so don’t treat them like one.

Employers need to look past the cover letter.  Ask for a 2-minute video instead.  It’s time to wise up.  You can tell a lot in two minutes on video.  Take them out for a cuppa for 30 minutes.  You have 32 minutes per candidate.  Yes it takes time but don’t you owe it to the candidate?  After all, how long did it take them to prepare the video, cover letter and resume?  Let’s face it, many people rise to the occasion over a cup of coffee.  They are stimulated and many do their best work after a caffeine hit.  Well I do anyway.

Interviewing people is part of your job.  If you don’t have the time then either make the time or hire someone dedicated to hiring new employees.  It’s time to change the process.  It’s time to respond to candidates from advertisements.  It’s time to pick out those who really want the job.  It’s time for employers and HR departments to get out of their own way and establish new processes for hiring new employees.

I am a qualified Social Worker and Counsellor with over 25 years of experience in corporate, government and human services in administration, IT and management.  My passion today is about helping people change their lives.  If you need assistance as an employer in searching for candidates during the interview process or if you are a candidate needing assistance, you can Contact Me Now.  I provide FREE 15 minute sessions through PlusGuidance.  Simply sign up for free,  message me and I will set up your FREE session.