Online psychotherapy FAQs

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Online psychotherapy FAQs

If you do not find the answer you are looking for below, please email admin@headroom.co.za.

Headroom is South Africa’s first independent online psychotherapy platform enabling fast, affordable and discreet access to a wide range of qualified therapists available to anyone seeking support for their emotional, psychological and social well-being.

Headroom helps improve therapy outcomes through enabling more personalised matching between a patient and a therapist, decoupled from the geographical confines of physical therapy rooms.

Headroom also provides a comprehensive “one-stop-shop” for therapists, including easy access to patients, real-time bookings, payments and billing system, online sessions, clinical data management system and collaboration tools.

We do not employ nor manage the therapists that appear on the site. Headroom provides a secure, private and reliable communication channel between the therapist and the patient.

We are not affiliated with any of the registered medical aids and any user or registered therapist can join and use our platform.  

Therapy takes you on a journey of self-discovery and provides you with the tools and support required to live your life to its fullest potential. By identifying and dealing with psychological issues you are able to liberate yourself from the issues holding you back and focus your energy on the areas that propel you forward.

Headroom hosts a large range of therapists that can assist you more generally, within specialised areas or with specific therapeutic approaches. These include for example addiction and recovery, codependency, abuse, trauma, depression, anxiety, parenting, relationships, grief, self-esteem, anger, sleeping, eating, work stress, career counselling, dreaded disease, old age, sexuality, personality disorders, other psychiatric diagnoses, etc.

If you have been diagnosed with a severe mental illness and/or have been advised to remain under psychological supervision or psychiatric care please consult with your assigned therapist or doctor as to the appropriateness of this site in your specific circumstances. If you are a minor, your parent or guardian needs to consent to your use of Headroom.

Headroom is not appropriate for emergency situations or if you have thoughts of hurting yourself or others (please refer to the list of emergency numbers in South Africa).

Effective use of Headroom requires a device that can connect to a reliable internet connection.

The therapists are psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and counsellors duly licensed by the Health Professions Council of South Africa (”HPCSA”) or the South African Council for Social Services Professions (“SACSSP”) as the case may be. Each therapist is verified before being authorised to offer their services and accept client bookings on the Headroom platform.

Healthcare practitioners have a responsibility to continually update their professional knowledge and skills for the end benefit of the patient or client. To this end the HPCSA has implemented a Continuing Professional Development programme under which practitioners are required to accumulate Continuing Education Units (CEUs) including the ethics, human rights and medical law.

All healthcare service providers are also registered with the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF). This is essential when claiming from a medical scheme. 

As a client, you can find the registration and practice numbers and detailed descriptions of each therapist by clicking on their profile.

Headroom performs a verification of each therapist hosted on the platform. Furthermore, each of our therapists must maintain high client feedback ratings in order to continue practicing via Headroom.

We ensure that every therapist added to the platform is fully qualified. Interested therapists are required to provide proper documentation proving qualifications and proof of identity.

We also disclose the qualifications details of each therapist in order for you to conduct your own due diligence on your therapist should you wish to do so.

There is no upfront cost for registering on Headroom. It is only upon booking a session that you will be prompted to make payment. Session rates are determined by the respective therapists. The rate per session is dependent on the length of time of the session, the levels of qualification and the experience of the therapist. A therapist may offer reduced rates for recurrent sessions.

As an alternative to ad hoc sessions we intend to add on a subscription model to make long term therapy more affordable. In the interim please engage directly with your therapists regarding package pricing for multiple sessions should this be of interest to you. 

You are fully within your rights to opt for an audio only session (no video element). However, in so doing, the therapist is deprived of the opportunity to use your facial expressions, body language and physical demeanour to better assess and understand your psychological state. Therefore, in order to derive the most out of the session with the therapist, patients are encouraged to make use of the video conferencing element.

There is already a fair amount of research in support of online therapy and its effectiveness. While still relatively new in South Africa, online therapy is widely and successfully used in the US and Europe.

What makes therapy most effective is your commitment to the process and having access to the right advice at the right time.

We make it easier for you to connect, so that you can focus on your attendance and improvement. We give you access to a number of professionals far beyond those within the geographical area you can easily travel to.  We bring the choice of therapists to your fingertips so that you can quickly compare the available alternatives and take immediate action. No unnecessary emails or phone calls to a practice before you can settle on a suitable time – you can view the therapist’s availability and book sessions 24/7. We believe that prevention now is better than a cure later and that positive results start with early action.

We make it our mission to help you achieve the best possible results in whichever way we can.

If conducted in the correct manner, online therapy works very much like in the physical world. In the same way as face to face communication requires an appropriate level of social etiquette in order to be constructive, online communication is also governed by a certain ‘netiquette’, a code of polite behaviour for virtual communications environments.

It is important to note that therapists are subject to the same professional standards and regulations irrespective of whether the session is conducted online or in their practice. In fact, many therapists already offer the alternative of online sessions via informal channels.

A confirmed session needs to be paid for in full at the time of booking. Sessions can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance and such sessions will be refunded, in as far as the basis for cancelation is reasonable. (Sessions can also be rescheduled to limit the need for cancelations).

An admin fee of R100 will be charged to the user responsible for initiating the cancelation to cover the transaction and platform related fees incurred by Headroom.  The refund policy depends on the relevant circumstances and has been designed in such a way as to protect the interests of both the therapist and the client. We do send both parties a notification including a calendar invite of the booked session. Either party can cancel or reschedule should the date and time no longer be suitable.

Rescheduled sessions:

  • Sessions can be rescheduled up until 24 hours before the schedule time.
  • Sessions rescheduled within 24 hours of the scheduled time will be assessed on a case by case basis by the therapist.
  • If at any point the therapist cancels the session, and you do not wish to reschedule for another time, your payment will be fully refunded.

Punctuality and session attendance:

  • If you are not punctual in terms of attendance of a session then the lost time will not be substituted, unless offered by the therapist.
  • If you fail to sign in for a scheduled session for whatever reason, an admin fee of R150 will be charged to you to cover the transaction and platform related fees incurred by Headroom.

Technical glitches:

  • If the session is compromised for any reason due to technical issues, please immediately contact admin@headroom.co.za for assistance. In the event that the issue cannot be resolved, the participants will have the choice to reschedule the session or request a full refund.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding refunds, please email admin@headroom.co.za and we will gladly assist.

Sessions can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance of the session start time. Both therapists and clients are able reschedule or cancel a session:

For Clients: The tab ‘Cancel/Reschedule Session’ on the client dashboard lists the approved sessions. To cancel or reschedule a session simply click on the associated ‘cancel’ or ‘reschedule’ button and confirm the cancellation or amend the date and time. An email notification will automatically be send to the session participants and the respective dashboards will automatically be updated.

For Therapist: Locate the session which requires rescheduling or cancellation in the calendar on the tab ‘Calendar’ tab on the therapist dashboard. To cancel or reschedule a session simply click on session in the calendar. This will launch a popup box enabling the session to be cancelled or rescheduled. To reschedule the session edit the date and time fields and click ‘save’. To cancel the session click on the ‘tick’ icon to the right of the client name and select ‘cancelled’.  An email notification will automatically be sent to the session participants and the respective dashboards will automatically be updated.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding cancelling or rescheduling sessions, please email admin@headroom.co.za and we will gladly assist.

As per normal business practice and in line with the medical aid standard practice, a one hour session can be expected to last between 51-60 minutes. Equally a half an hour session can be expected to last between 21-30 minutes.  

It is possible for multiple participants (in the same or different place) to convene in the same session. Whether this is desirable will be determined at the professional discretion of the therapist.  The therapist may suggest that individual sessions are conducted with multiple parties separately to understand the individual perspectives. In order to access the Headroom virtual rooms every participant will need to be registered as a user of the Headroom platform (either as a Client or a Therapist).

Our video rooms can accommodate up to 200 participants at once. Should you wish to make use of our facilities for group sessions, please contact us on admin@headroom.co.za to make appropriate arrangements. 

To the extent that your medical aid scheme covers online therapy, it is possible to have the session with a qualified therapist via Headroom  and thereafter to submit the related invoice as a medical aid claim. In this regard we suggest that that you refer to your specific medical aid scheme’s website and guidelines with regards to telehealth/telemedicine- each of the schemes have specific guidance.

Headroom supports the medical aid claims administration of therapist practices. Please inquire by contacting us on admin@headroom.co.za

If you got to this point of our website, your concern or interest are important to you and have prompted you to seek answers.

If you are unsure of whether or not you wish to proceed with booking a session with a professional, there are various mental health assessment scales and questionnaires available online which you could complete to gain a better understanding of your emotional and psychological state. That said, there is no harm in scheduling an introductory session with a therapist to commence conversation. Many people in need of therapy delay seeking treatment. The very issues that are often cited as excuses to avoid therapy are the issues that they need treatment for.

Some therapists offer free introductory sessions which may be beneficial in assisting you to unpack your questions and expectations and assess the most appropriate next steps for you.

In order to make contact with a therapist you need to be a registered user, schedule a session and make payment. This works in the same way as one would book an appointment with a therapist in a physical consulting room.

Should you require any support whatsoever, make use of the contact form or send us an email at info@headroom.co.za and we will respond as soon as possible.

The transactional currency of Headroom is South African Rand (ZAR).

Should you wish to delete your account for any reason kindly send an email to admin@headroom.co.za and we will gladly assist you with no questions asked. Before requesting deletion of your account kindly cancel any pending sessions. Our procedures will verify that this has been done and we also verify whether there are any amounts owning to you before deleting your account.

In order to change your password you need to be logged in to your account. Then hover over the top right hand corner, where it says ‘Hello’, and select ‘My Account’ from the drop down list. This will take you to your Account Page, where you will find the ‘Change Password’ option.

Should you wish to change the email address associated with your account kindly send an email to admin@headroom.co.za and we will gladly assist. Changing your email address may impact your pending sessions notifications and as such we perform some basic procedures before effecting the change.

Test connection environment

You are able to test your connection by selecting the ‘Test Connection’ hyperlink associated with each booked session. Selecting this hyperlink launches a test room where you are able to view your own image on the screen to confirm that the camera is operational.

The video and audio can be switched on or off by selecting the camera or microphone icon in the bottom left hand side of the screen. Note that the icons are presented with a strike through line. When the icons are black the camera and microphone are active/switched on. When the icons are red then they are inactive/switched off. In both instances a strike through line is visible.

In the right-hand corner of the test screen is an icon made up of three little dots. Clicking on this icon launches the settings for the test room. We encourage all users to familiarise themselves with the layout and settings of the video conferencing room:

Camera/microphone settings: allow you to change the source of the mic: microphone sound, camera, video image and speakers, sounds speakers. In order to test the speakers, you are able to run a sound test by clicking on ‘play test sound’.

Video quality: this allows you to select the video quality (high, low or camera off – which should only be done to save bandwidth).

Active speaker view: determines whose image is to be displayed more prominently.

Virtual room

In addition to the features in the test connection environment, the virtual room also has a setting which provides feedback on the quality of the internet connection. If you are experiencing some granularity in the video images initially, allow a 1-2 minutes for the connection to stabilise.

If you regularly receive the message ‘retrying’ this is likely related to network. It is useful to also keep in mind that the video conferencing sessions are taking place in a browser. Therefore, if you are experiencing problems, one workaround is to quit the session in the browser you are currently using and reopening it in new browser. The calls can be conducted via the following browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge, in order of preference and quality. Chrome is the recommended browser and delivers most consistent quality video.

If you are receiving messages regarding ‘packet loss’ during a session, try one of the following:

  • Reboot computer
  • Move closer to your Wifi router

(Packet loss is different from your speed test or download speed. Packet loss reflects UDP data, which is the data transmitted when you stream live media.  When streaming live media, network issues often relate to an OS-level root cause. That is why, if you’re having issues, rebooting can be effective).

The virtual room made available for a booked session is available only for the duration of the session and will automatically close at the ending time associated with the session. There is a countdown timer at the top if the screen to assist both therapist and client to bring the session to an appropriate close before closure of the virtual room.

It is possible to book multiple sessions. A virtual room is only reserved when a session has been approved (which requires payment to be made). As such the system has been designed to proceed to checkout after booking a session. Should you wish to book additional sessions, simply return to your dashboard (by selecting ‘My Dashboard’ in the personalised drop down box or click on the “back” button in the browser), select the Book New Session tab on your client dashboard and book another session. Your booked sessions will accumulate in your cart allowing a single checkout.

In order to create an account you are required to provide a First and Last Name which will be visible to therapists with whom you book sessions. You are entirely within your rights to provide an alias for this purpose.  Your Client Profile on Headroom is visible only to you, the owner of the profile.

On your client registration form we also ask for your Billing Name and Billing Address. These details are required for the purposes of the therapist raising an invoice to the client and submitting a medical aid claim on his or her behalf, just like in the physical therapy rooms.  If you wish to claim from your medical aid, you will need to provide your correct details.