Online Therapy and Counselling FAQs

Online Therapy, Counselling and Coaching FAQs

Question and Information icons

If you do not find the answer you are looking for below, please email us.

Headroom is South Africa’s first online mental health and psychosocial support platform enabling fast, affordable and discreet access to a wide range licensed professionals (psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers and counsellors) for anyone seeking support for their mental, emotional and social well-being.

We are independent, meaning that we are not affiliated with any medical aid scheme and can therefore bring you impartial service.

Any Client can use our platform and access any listed Professional, compare costs in a flash, and enjoy a peace of mind that the choice is in their hands. Any licensed Professional can join and offer their services through our platform, subject to our verification.

Headroom helps improve therapy, counselling and coaching outcomes through enabling more personalised matching between a client and a professional, decoupled from the geographical confines of physical meeting rooms.

Headroom also provides a comprehensive “one-stop-shop” for professionals, including easy access to clients, real-time bookings, regulatory compliance (informed consent, etc.), secure payments system, medical aid compliant billings, global HIPAA-standard online video-consultations, and data management system.

We do not employ nor manage the professionals that appear on our site. Headroom provides a secure, private and reliable communication channel between the professional and the client.

Online therapy, counselling or coaching takes you on a journey of self-discovery and provides you with the tools and support required to live your life to your fullest potential. By identifying and dealing with emotional, psychological or social difficulties, you are able to liberate yourself from what is holding you back and focus your energy on the areas that propel you forward.

Headroom hosts a range of professionals who can support you in matters ranging from mental health care, work related challenges and medico-legal matters to personal growth and development.  

Interventions include general advice, specialised support and specific therapeutic approaches.

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

The world changes fast and the global body of research expands constantly and at an astronomical rate. Headroom works with practitioners who are not only passionate about learning, but who also have a professional responsibility to continually update their knowledge and skills for the end benefit of the client.

The above professional organisations have Continuing Professional Development programs under which practitioners are required to accumulate Continuing Education Units (CEUs) including the ethics, human rights and medical law, in order to maintain valid licenses to practice

Some healthcare service providers are also registered with the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF). This is essential when a client wishes to claim the cost of sessions from a medical aid scheme. 

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

Each of the professional industry bodies with whom the Headroom’s therapists, counsellors and coaches are registered issues a Code of Conduct and/or Ethics. These Codes prescribe a set of norms, standards, rules and responsibilities associated with proper and ethical conduct that every professional member must follow.

Follow the links below to view the Codes:

Headroom endevours to provide you with information which is useful for your use of our website.
The Codes may and do change from time to time and Headroom does not guarantee that the above versions are the latest versions issued. If you are dealing with a matter requiring the most recent codes, we recommend that you contact the relevant professional body directly.

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 professional. The rate per session is dependent on the length of time of the session, the levels of qualification and the experience of the professional. A professional may offer reduced rates for recurrent sessions.

As an alternative to ad hoc sessions we are working on a subscription model to make long term therapy more affordable for you.

In the interim, please look for discounted packages for multiple sessions when selecting the session type during booking.  Many professionals also offer deeply discounted matching sessions which are always worth it to establish a good fit and may give the parties an opportunity to negotiate special rates.

You are fully within your rights to opt for an audio only session (no video element). However, in so doing, the professional 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 professional, clients are encouraged to make use of the video element.

There is already a fair amount of research in support of online therapy, counselling and coaching and its effectiveness. The term generally refers to medical, therapeutic and psychosocial support conducted virtually.

While still relatively new in South Africa, online interventions are widely and successfully used in the US and Europe.

What makes online interventions 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 professionals 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 professional’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.

You can access more information on the effectiveness of online interventions in our blogs. You can also Sign up to receive our free Guide to help you consider if online support is for you.

If conducted in the correct manner, online therapy, counselling and coaching 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.

Appropriate preparation is also important to maximise the effectiveness of the engagements you have with your therapist, counsellor or coach.

You can access more information on the effectiveness of online interventions in our blogs. You can also Sign up to receive our free Guide to help you consider if online support is for you.

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

These are usually the freely accessible video-conferencing platforms, which are however NOT SUITABLE for online therapy, as they lack the digital and other safeguards required to ensure the privacy, security and confidentiality of the client’s information.  

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

You can access more information on the effectiveness of online interventions in our blogs. You can also Sign up to receive our free Guide to help you consider if online support is for you.

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 professional 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 professionals 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.

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 cancellation is reasonable. (Sessions can also be rescheduled to limit the need for cancellations). An admin fee of up to R250 will be charged to the user responsible for initiating the cancellation 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 professional and the client. Please note refunds will be issued at the end of the mont or first week of the following month.

We send both parties a notification including a calendar invitation for the booked session. The client 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 professional.
  • If at any point the professional cancels the session, and you do not wish to reschedule for another time, your payment will be refunded.
  • If you have cancelled your appointment and wish to reschedule please note that we have a detailed record or your appointment and your credit. Please contact us at admin@headroom.co.za for us to assist you to book your rescheduled appointment if it is not reflecting on your Headroom dashboard “rescheduling” tab.

Punctuality and session attendance:

  • If you are not punctual in terms of attendance of a session,  the lost time will not be substituted, unless offered by the professional.
  • If you fail to sign in for a scheduled session for whatever reason, an admin fee of R250 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 us 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 us and we will gladly assist.

Sessions can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance of the session start time by clients only. 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 Professionals: An internal Headroom administration fee will occur for any rescheduling or cancelling of sessions by the professional due to calendars that are not kept up to date.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding cancelling or rescheduling sessions, please email us 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 discretion of the professional.  The professional 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 Professional).

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 to make appropriate arrangements. 

To the extent that your medical aid scheme covers online therapy, counselling and coaching, it is possible to have the session with a professional 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 rules and guidelines with regards to telehealth or telemedicine for mental health. Each of the schemes have specific guidance.

Headroom supports the medical aid claims administration of professionals’ practices. For details, please inquire by contacting us

In order to make contact with a professional 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 professional in a physical consulting room.

Should you require any support whatsoever, make use of the contact form or send us an email 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 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 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 professional 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 professionals 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 professional 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.