What is email therapy?
The fundamental principles of email therapy are the same as face to face therapy – but utilise a different medium. Email therapy is available to all students. It has the same overall aim as face-to-face therapy – ie to help ‘develop and fulfil personal and academic potential’. The email therapists work to the same Code of Ethics, the same confidentiality guidelines (as far as can be expected with a computer-based system of communication) and deal with similar issues as in face to face therapy.
Many of the Counselling and Psychology Interventions Team (CAPIT) have certificates from leading online facilitators such as Jane Evans (OCTC) and Kate Anthony (Online Therapy Institute). Online trainee therapists receive regular supervision with qualified therapists.
Who is the email therapy service for?
The email therapy service is exclusively for registered students of the University of Warwick who are otherwise entitled to use the Counselling and Psychology Service, but who would prefer the opportunity of therapy via email. NB For students who want specific advice on any matters practical, personal or emotional - you can contact Student Union Advice and Welfare, or Wellbeing Support:
For students who are suicidal, psychotic, or excessive users of non-prescribed drugs or alcohol, email therapy is not appropriate. If your issues seem urgent and require immediate attention, see the list of resources, contacts and information links.
How does email therapy work?
Therapy via email can be helpful as a different way of expressing yourself and describing your issues. Through writing out your email - up to 750 words - you can get a clearer understanding of your concerns so you can make choices or changes, as necessary. As with face-to-face therapy, email therapy is not about advising you what to do, but can prompt you to think about what you are doing and so develop your own thinking. Occasionally the email therapist may suggest web links for you to get more information.
Once you have signed up for email therapy, you will be allocated an appointment with one of the CAPIT therapists. We then ask that you send in your email 24 hours before this appointment time. Your therapist will then write a reply and send it during your appointment time, or as soon as possible afterwards. Their reply will usually also include the date and time of your next appointment, unless you have already between you worked towards an ending. Please note that your email and your therapist’s reply should both be in the form of a traditional email, not an instant message/response.
What if I don’t send in my email in time?
If you have not written before your appointment time, your therapist will contact you via the Wellbeing Portal. You may not automatically be offered another appointment. If you know that you are not going to be able to send in your email in time, please let us know so that your appointment time can be re-allocated.
How long can I have email therapy?
Your therapist will agree with you how many email exchanges you will have; most people who engage in email therapy have around 4-6 email exchanges with their therapist. It may be that after you have written and received a number of replies, the therapist invites you to summarise what you have learnt from the process, ask you to review what is working well, and encourage you to think about whether you are ready to work towards an ending, or whether you would like to proceed with further emails. Often this sort of evaluation can help you to get the most from your email therapy exchanges.
What about confidentiality?
To secure more privacy in your emails, we recommend you use your Warwick email address as we can't guarantee the security and privacy offered by other email accounts.
To uphold the policy of confidentiality, no information is recorded on any central student records. Once you are undertaking email therapy, email folders are opened to store your emails and all replies are accessible by the email therapists only. At the end of each academic year, email folders are archived (unless therapy is continuing).
What if I need urgent help or support?
Any emails submitted are responded to during your next scheduled session, and may not be read before then. If you feel you need a more immediate response, you may like to consider accessing a different source of support. You may want to contact NHS Direct for information or your GP surgery (they will have an out of hours service if required) or get in touch with the Samaritans who offer a 24/7 listening service. For any on-campus emergency situations, contact security on 02476 522083.
What about technological problems?
Email therapy is, by definition, reliant on computer technology. The email therapists have remote access to the Warwick University IT systems. In the event of system failure either within the Warwick University system or locally to the Counselling and Psychology Interventions Team, the therapists will endeavour to keep you informed as appropriate. If you experience technical difficulties (system or computer/network failure), it is important to keep us informed as appropriate.
How can I have my say about the University Email Therapy Service?
We continually evaluate what we offer and make improvements where possible so that the Service meets the needs of its users. To this end, when you finish email therapy you will be sent an online questionnaire to complete. You are asked to consider aspects of the email therapy service such the usefulness of your therapy experience. Verbatim responses are included in the report but are not attributed to individuals and are anonymous. All reasonable suggestions for improvement will be considered and your feedback about this service is welcomed.