Requirements for Distance Counseling
There are a few things that you need for Distance Counseling sessions: a private space in which to have your sessions; a computer with an adequate internet connection; a webcam; and headphones. I cover these in more detail below, as well as information regarding where to mail session payments to, and considerations for your 1st Distance Counseling session.
You will need to have a private space, free of distractions in which to have your Distance Counseling sessions. In some cases it might be helpful to purchase a “white noise machine”. This is a small device which you can place outside of your door to give added privacy during your online counseling sessions. You can learn more about these in the following blog post: Helpful Uses for White Noise Machines.
Computer with Internet Connection (with Adequate Speed)
In order to have online video sessions you will need a computer with an internet connection. This can be a desktop, laptop or tablet. Though some tablets will work with the video conference software, I recommend using a desktop or laptop if possible. Most computers made within the past several years should be capable of online video sessions (provided you have a webcam and adequate internet connection). It is recommended to have a Dual-Core processor (or Quad-Core if possible) at 2.0GHz (or faster) with at least 1GB of Memory available. A Single-Core processor at 2.4GHz (or faster) can provide adequate video quality.
It is recommended that your internet connection have a minimum speed/bandwidth of 1 Mbps Download and 1 Mbps Upload. Most internet connections will have adequate Download speeds, but Upload speeds for some connections can be on the low side. Higher speeds (for both Download and Upload) will improve the quality of video that you can receive and send (up to the limits of the webcam used). You can check your internet connection speed at: Speedtest.net.
You will also need a webcam (i.e., web camera) connected to your computer (and positioned on top of, or in front of, your monitor). Many current laptops and some tablets have webcams built in. I suggest a minimum of 360p resolution, but you do not need any higher than 720p (i.e., 720p is the maximum the video conferencing software currently supports). A 360p webcam is considered High Quality resolution. 720p is considered HD Video and requires approximately 3 Mbps Upload speed to make full use of the HD resolution. Note that the video conferencing software will send and receive the highest quality video your internet connection will allow (up to and including 720p).
If you need to purchase a webcam I recommend the following two products: the Logitech C310 USB 2.0 HD WebCam and the Microsoft LifeCam HD-3000 USB 2.0 720p HD WebCam. Both of these are 720p webcams. Prices fluctuate, but in general there is so little price difference between these 720p webcams and some 360p webcams that I think either of these two are a worthwhile purchase even if your internet connection will not support full 720p resolution.
Headphones (or Headset with Microphone)
You will need a pair of headphones (e.g., even simple earbuds can suffice), or alternatively a headset with built-in microphone. The reason I ask that you wear headphones (or a headset) is to avoid an echo/feedback issue that can occur where my voice plays over your speakers and then loops back through your webcam microphone (causing a very distracting echo on my end). By both parties utilizing headphones (or headsets) this issue is eliminated. If you would like to use a headset with built-in microphone (instead of using the webcam microphone) I recommend the Logitech G330 3.5mm/USB Connector Headset; it is decent quality, lightweight, comfortable and adjustable. You are not required to use this particular headset (or any headset for that matter—only headphones are requested). Any headset or headphones that you find comfortable and adequate audio quality should be fine. For additional options you can explore the headsets sold by Skype.
Other Important Details
Payment: You can pay online via Dwolla. Checks should be made out to Transitions Counseling and mailed to:
250 East Market Street
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22801
Note: Most banks offer free online Bill Pay services, which usually includes the option to have the bank mail a physical check.
1st Session: You will receive an automated email by the morning of your 1st session with instructions on how to access the private “online meeting room”. Though typically you should not have to install any software, it can take a few minutes (depending on your computer) for the “online meeting room” to be set up on your computer via your web browser. I recommend that for the 1st session you plan to go 15 minutes early to the “online meeting room” in your browser in order to give adequate time for any required components (such as Java) to be installed and configured. Your browser may ask for confirmation of several things during the initial configuration, and if so, you should say “Yes” to those.
Return to the Distance Counseling page.