How to find the right online coach, video counsellor or virtual therapist for e-consultations.

Individualised online services for well-being, real-time life coaching and mental health are gaining in popularity. Increased disruptions in public life such as social movement and outbreaks of infectious diseases impel the demand. How can you find the best fit for your needs? What are the edges an online practitioner must have?

People reduce their commutes and value the safety and convenience of home and the workplace over physical activity and face-to-face socialising. Video conferencing, live chat and phone conversations are being increasingly used to address personal challenges as well as matters of performance and success.

Video conferencing makes it easy and accessible to keep a healthy routine of self-care. Online counselling offers advantages in flexibility, efficiency and mobility. It demonstrates a broad range of suitability, but also carries limitations. Many people can benefit from online consultation services via video call, phone sessions, text messaging and chat.

Some of my online clients appreciate in particular the virtual nature of online therapy, because it also offers an additional sense of safety, built-in boundaries (time, distance and intimacy) and optional anonymity. 

Personality and Experience

The most important criteria for the success of remote therapy and coaching is the working alliance with your virtual coach and online therapist. A relationship of mutual trust and respect contributes 50% to successfully working together. I recommend to invest the first appointment in order for you to get a feel for your rapport. Ask yourself if your therapist or coach is listening, resonating and empathising with you. Do you feel unconditional support and respect? From my personal experience in therapy I want my therapist to be kind, but not too soft or fluffy. It is key that he/she is honest about their feelings and thoughts and enquires into your interpersonal connection with her/him.

“Working online’ is used in this guidance to include all methods of communication using digital and information technology regardless of whether equipment used is a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smartphone or any other device. ‘Working online’ is also sometimes referred to as ‘working at a distance’ to establish a distinction from working in the physical presence of the other person.”

British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (Factsheet 047, March 2019)

Background and Training

You can usually check the background and education of your counselor, coach and therapist on their website and social media such as LinkedIn. A simple google research will also provide you with some appearances in their professional capacity – you might find publications, videos and programs of their involvements. Regarding further development, professional registers, specialty education and memberships it might be worthwhile to look into the online listings and registers of certifying institutions where you can search by name or location. In addition to these formal checks, I recommend for you to also get an understanding of your practitioner’s personal and professional journey through life. Does this person embody an open mind, a wholesome approach to life and possess values that serve you well?

Technology and Infrastructure

Although most social media provides channels and means to converse online, WhatsApp, FaceTime, HangOuts, Skype et al might not provide the best technical stability, privacy and confidentiality. Does your therapist, coach and counsellor use a renown video conferencing software that enables audio, video and screen as well as file sharing features? Which timezone is he/she based in and how does that align with your schedule? And even more importantly: Does the virtual connection work? Is the quality of sound and vision high and stable? After all, if the line is bad, your session will be a waste of time and money.

Cost and Efficiency

Apropos money: Cost depends on duration, practitioner experience, specialisations and clientele. Much like seeking out a personal trainer, it is essential that you become clear of your

  1. ambition
  2. budget
  3. priorities

Beware of someone who makes unrealistic promises or seems to want to make a sale rather than seriously offering services with integrity and decency. Online coaching is not a one-off. Therapy and counselling benefits from regular and steady commitment to depth and experience. Most decent practitioners value timeline over quick-wins and hence are willing to reward your engagement into a process and a series of sessions over time. Expect to pay in a range of 50 to 450USD (40 to 400EUR, 70 to 660AUD, 400 to 3500HKD) with rates being typically higher for business coaching.

How to prepare as a client

From many years of experience as an online counsellor I have learned to check with my clients if they are ready to work with me. Here is what I am asking for in order to ensure best results. I basically want you to show up for an online session in exactly the same way you would show up face-to-face in my office – my recommended online way is per video call.

  • Environment – be in a quiet space, with good light and sound and a steady camera
  • Attitude – be dressed in smart casual and ready to stay focused while our meeting lasts
  • Discipline – be on time, but prepared to wait a few minutes – my online sessions have a waiting room function
  • Privacy – be present (no cats, colleagues or other communications)

Being well prepared is great gift of respect from both sides. It always yields better results for your online therapy. Wishing you an insightful and healing online experience!!

Resource of Quote

Good Practice in Action 047 – Fact Sheet: Working Online in the Counselling Professions is published by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, BACP House, 15 St John’s Business Park, Lutterworth, Leicestershire LE17 4HB. (Updated March 2019)

12 thoughts for food and how to implement scientific facts into everyday life

Well-being is a reflection of the harmony of Body and Mind. Food is essential for our mental and physical fitness. My approach to coaching and counselling aims to improve quality of life and therefore takes into account how and what we eat. Continuous lifestyle development is key to an open and sustainable experience.

“Dietary needs are similar to attachment needs – there are universal fundamentals, but each individual has unique characteristics and requirements. Just like we flourish with love and safety, we need the right energy for growth and to age well.”

Let me share with you my take aways from recent food science and how I adapt the finding in everyday life. Source of these guidelines is a German bestselling book about nutrition which is a conclusion of all scientific research studies about food since the 1950s* (Kast 2018).

Protein first, then carbs and fat

Harvard Health* says that we need 0.8grams of protein per kg of body weight. Protein saturates, we stop eating when we had enough. That’s why I chose protein as my starting point. I aim to reduce meat and fish to 3 meals per week (total of 450grams) and to cut out red meats as best I can for chicken and salmon instead. In addition I substantially ramped up plant-based protein: tofu, tempeh & edamame, lentils, chickpeas, peanuts (not good for kidney stones), almonds, spirulina, quinoa (as a “complete” protein contains all 9 essential amino acids), mycoprotein, chia seeds (2g per tbsp), hemp seeds (5g per tbsp or 14g), beans, broccoli stalk 4g / kale 200g = 2g, seitan (wheat gluten, 21g in 80g).

Coffee – filtered only

Can consume 4 cups daily, Contains several healthy substances. The few unhealthy oily substances need to be filtered out. Hence no french press 🙁 and no espresso machine 🙁

Dairy when it’s fermented. No Milk. No Butter

It’s a Yes from me for Yoghurt and Kefir: several health effects related to microbiom and digestion. And a Yes for Cheese: naturally high in calcium, good source for Vitamin K and Spermidine with various important metabolic functions.

Sugar and other Carbs

The common sugar consists of glucose and fructose. In particular fructose drives weight gain and increased intestinal fat. Attention: Fructose does not show in glycemic index tables, as the GI only measures glucose.

Avoid white rice, potatoes and white bread. Avoid french fries, chips and cookies and pastries that you have not made yourself (to avoid trans fats and sugar). Eat whole-grain bread and sometimes sourdough due to healthier digestion.

Fat – polyunsaturated good, trans fats never

Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish (like salmon) and from plants (only ALA, not EPA nor DHA – taking fish oil supplements): Chia Seeds (10g cover RDA 1600mg), Brussel Sprouts, Algal Oil from algae, Hemp Seeds (even more than Chia), Walnuts (20g for RDA), flaxseeds (very high in ALA) and Perilla Oil (super-high in ALA).

Olive Oil

Good olive oil scratches in the throat when swallowing a teaspoon of it – it has to taste bitter and peppery. Buy pure extra virgin native cold pressed. Can be used for frying – can help keep fried meat healthier. Associated with anti-aging and significant reduction of breast cancer risk.

Fasting – continuous lifestyle vs. intensive time-outs

Although I am a big fan of detox fasting following the Buchinger method (once or twice yearly), I do want to feel fit, healthy and comfortable all year round. That’s why I am gravitating in most weeks towards time-restricted fasting with 8hrs of food intake and 16hrs of fasting. I am not religiously adhering to these times on a daily basis, but find them easy to calculate and to live. A typical day then looks like breakfast around 10am and last meal before 6pm.

Conclusions for a healthy diet

1. Eat food with more whole carbs in the morning: whole-grain cereals with fruit and yoghurt

2. Eat some fatty food in the afternoon or evening: cheese, avocado, olive oil, nuts

3. Find a time-restricted cycle that suits your needs while helping your discipline and can be integrated into your work-week.

4. Enjoy your food! Familiarise with a few foundations and give yourself a chance to make it through a short phase of adjustment – you will gain back health and fitness over time.


Bas Kast (2018): The Nutrition Compass / Der Ernaehrungskompass, 28th, Munich: Random House.

The Complacency Catch

Did you do better than last year? Does that mean you rock? Does that mean you master what you do?
This is a story about complacency. Here is how I painfully found out about having become complacent twice during the course of a few years – and this only with regard to my swim training. Complacency is the loss of self-awareness and critical judgement in exchange for convenience and grandiosity. The pitfall we are all facing is to stop aspiring the wisdom of knowing what we can change in ourselves and in our environment. With this blog I want to bring you up to Speedo about my findings in the Arena of swimming, which you might as well apply to life in general.
It was a long and hard training for me to become the brilliant well-built fast eel-like and humble swimmer that I am now. It’s only due to the gift of great selflessness that I don’t earn money with my swimming but leave this to other younger talents who are – of course – more in need than I am.
My knees gave the signal for a necessary change with increased pain due to my ambitious frog-legs movement. I swam only breast stroke for most of my life. Which constitutes for the first complacency. Two years ago I surprised myself with switching to freestyle quasi over night. This was faster, more elegant and put no strain on my knees. In hindsight I regret a bit not having had realised much earlier how smooth and beautiful the freestyle really is. 
I literally flip turned the script of my swimming in the public pools of Hong Kong. I had a good feel for the water since I was young and always felt in my element – never afraid of going under. I was not concerned about the strokes and the kicking. The biggest challenge for me was to get the sideways breathing right. Breathing unilaterally on the right hand side only I swallowed some of Kowloon’s finest while trying to catch air every second stroke.
Online videos helped me to understand movement and timing. I learned flip turn and soon was also able to breath on both sides. I forced myself to learn left and right hand breathing, because I understood that an unbalanced strain on neck and spine increased the risk of injury and neck deformation. Then my lungs developed and I switched to bilateral breathing, which greatly improved my speed and steadiness.
Since I became faster and fitter I swam longer distances and enjoyed variations of intervals which increased my confidence and stabilised my performance. I became the fastest swimmer in Lai Chi Cock during the afternoon sessions (amongst other swimmers often 20+ years older than me). Now it was time for a video analysis over and under water. I longed to see my metamorphosis into a dolphin and was convinced that the world – including my wife – deserved to witness the athletic resurrection of a 43y old caucasian male.
I found Dominic of Fastlane Swimming – a certified Swim Smooth trainer – who was prepared to capture my waterborn glory on a memory stick. Little did I anticipate how sobering my performance would be. I ticked all of the common mistakes and bad habits a freestyle swimmer can produce.
Hands diving in with thumbs first (bad for the shoulder), crossing over with my hands (inefficient style leading to a wiggly line), tilted body line with a turtle neck (slowing down and ugly), wide scissor legs to compensate for over-rotation, which in turn over-compensated for shock breathing (as opposed to continuously breathing out under water), straight arms in catch and pull (again,horror for the shoulders) and no sign of body-roll. The list was endless and painful. Endlessly painful. A quantum of solace was Dominic’s genuine confusion about how I could still swim so fast in spite of all of the above.
I was devastated. Instead of reassuring my grandiosity, the video revealed an underwhelming performance and an abundance of room for improvement. However, a few days later I was surprised with how much humour I could actually talk about my experience with the freestyle footage. After all, there was relief. I had not yet developed shoulder pain, my wife praised my butt cheeks and upper body on many occasions and I did enjoy swimming more than ever before. There was no reason to resign.
I now had something to work on. Myself.
It has been four month now since the video analysis and I introduced many changes to my swimming and to my life. At first my performance became lousy and I sometimes thought about reverting to my old but fast style of swimming. I didn’t. Now I am already faster than before with much stronger underarms due to an improved catch and pull from the elbows – amongst others.
The whole experience made me think ‘How often do we become pleased with ourselves based on improved performance or based on just feeling good about ourselves?’ In other words: Are you complacent right now, right there where you are? And in which area of your life are you complacent right now? Because you are. We all are.
Do you feel good about your sport or physical exercise? Your spiritual development and your social circles? Do you feel confident in your job, your profession your calling? Do you think you perform well in your other roles as a member of your society, partner, lover, colleague, friend or parent?
It is easy to become complacent when you measure efficiency as increased performance. You are faster, have more money, shuffle more emails and slapped out more of the same. As seen in my swimming, this is not sustainable and there is no increase in quality. My view was narrowed to efficiency and discounted effectiveness. I did not do the right things. I became complacent. In addition, for a long time I was not prepared to ask for help.

Are you already procrastinating? Or do you still distract yourself?

What I am hearing over and over from men of all walks of life with all kinds of professions, sexual preferences, educational, cultural and family backgrounds – is, that they seem to be unable to overcome the distractions of modern life in general and expat life in particular.
They repeatedly fail to stick to what they actually intend to do. What most people want to change in their lives can often be brought down to day to day behaviour: Going to bed earlier, going to bed when tired, eating less, eating more healthy, spending less time at work and more time with partners and family – to name a few.
Most men report to be desperate to stick to their goals, introduce a healthy routine of physical workout, adhere to healthy sleep and eat what is right. 

Most of these goals fall into one of two categories: limiting consumption and living healthier lives. 

In addition to that, they want to overcome the unsurmountable Mordor of procrastination. Often this means to fight a battle with passivity in order to make space for the cultivation of activity. 
When I run men’s groups I enjoy the dynamic of having around 8 grown up men in a room for two hours in a non-BS environment. That means not in a bar, not showing off and not competing. Instead it means being yourself, listening to challenges and tuning in with each other’s experience of life. 
From these groups I learned a great deal about what men in general go through and how to best support them. While the questions for many people seem to be similar in nature, the answers are entirely individual. 
Motivation is essential. To get a life back and to keep it alive. Why you make choices the way you do is a valid and very helpful question. The mental strategiesn measures of change in your behaviour are most effective and sustainable when you customise them according to your circumstances.

Life in Balance

Your goals are not your values. Goals can be set, ticked off or put on a shelf as a trophy. They are achievements, moments, possessions. You can’t live them as such. Your values can be lived. They are what you represent. Like an energy radiating out of you. Owning a yacht is a goal. Sailing is a value. You can look back onto your life and say “I owned a yacht” or “I sailed the oceans”. That might be quite a different experience and also a very different perspective.

The more you live according to your own values in life, the more you will succeed in finding your Life Balance. Having found your purpose in life is the ultimate realization of living according to your values. Your purpose also incorporates your talent, passion and strengths.

You might want to become Head of Department, own a company or give a speech in the park. These are all goals. You might also want to give joy and happiness to people around you, inspire others and want to be known for promoting healthy living. All values. While you are living these values you might be able to achieve to own a company or become a leader or give a speech in public.
Transitions in life often prove difficult and lengthy. In order to find your purpose in life you need to overcome your biggest fears, eliminate your favorite distractions and face your dominant concerns. 

Is your job your purpose? Or is your job your calling? Or is purpose something else – nothing to do with work?
Why would that even make any difference? Is your purpose “Having a family and providing for it”?

I am happy to show you the benefits of asking these questions.


Do you know stein-holding competitions? The Hong Kong Octoberfest has just finished after many successful weeks. One of the games they play on stage is to ask some people to compete in who is able to hold a full liter of beer on a stretched arm for the longest. These competitions typically only last a few minutes, because human muscles will wear out and get tired quickly and the contestants will start to feel more discomfort or even pain until they set the weight down. What feels like one kilogram in the very beginning quickly changes in your perception and after a few minutes feels overwhelmingly heavy and like a weight you are no longer able to handle. If you put down the glass for just a few seconds and release your arm, you are able to hold the glass again for a while.

Frequent short breaks are necessary to refresh and recharge.

Imagine your MIND being a muscle that handles stress, attention, memory and concentration. If you never give it a chance to “stretch”, rest and refresh, the same thing will happen to your mind as it will to your arm in a stein holding competition: it fatigues. All the little things you need to remember, problems you need to find solutions for and relationships you need to manage will add up in your mind and after a while feel unbearable and hence more stressful. More stress in turn affects your well-being, mood, interaction with people and ability to care for yourself.

Sabbatical 3/3

Three Top challenges for a meaningful Sabbatical and how to deal with doubts
Your top 3 challenges in living a fulfilled and meaningful sabbatical are:
Not being clear.
Not being focused.
Not being relaxed.
“Relaxed?” you might ask. Indeed, if you are clear and you are focused, then there no need not to be relaxed. Tensing up will not help you. Becoming dull, lazy or mindless is not being relaxed. Chilling out is not being relaxed. You can pursue a meaningful life while being relaxed – without hammock and beer. Relaxed means not being stressed. Not being stressed means balancing your capacity with your tasks. As if your life depended on it.
Of course you have doubts and concerns. “What do you mean “my first day back in the office”?” I hear you say. Maybe you are not sure what you want to do after this. Maybe you don’t even know what to do with this. So you learn Spanish eventually and then what? You live in Hong Kong, work for an Australian company, go to Thailand on vacation and love Japanese food. True, you can read Paulo Coelho in any language. But there is more to life than just functioning – I reckon. Share your concerns with others and talk about your doubts. The answer might lie in the way you feel about things when you hear yourself talking. If you are looking for a wholesome journey, then start by tuning in to yourself – as a body and mind experience. Ticking off boxes, fulfilling tasks and reaching set targets will often not make you  happy if your heart is not in it.
One more thing: Document your journey in some way!
You don’t need to have an agency working for you nor do you need to have your own blog, Facebook page or twitter account dedicated to your sabbatical experience. However, documenting your experience in some way or another will be helpful. It helps you reflect on you aspirations and adjust towards your goals if needed. It also helps you learn and develop a sense of achievement. Furthermore, while documenting your experience you will know if your heart is still in it – if the sabbatical carries your signature.
If your documentation enables feedback from friends and family or other followers, you can use this to help you stay focused and aware. Journal or reflect on your time spent ongoingly. Do not wait until the time is up or even worse postpone reflection to a later future stage. The learning and adjusting must happen while it happens: in the here and now! What you do later on can be done in addition.
Sabbatical being an amplified concept of life as such!

Sabbatical 2/3

Know your distractions as if your life depended on it!
So you take time off work and want to make the best out of it? Be mindful of some of the things that might hinder you making the most out of your time. Knowing your distractions can help you to steer clear.
Reflect back on last week. Where and how did you spend time on activities that were not in sync with your aspirations? Now ask yourself: did you make a conscious decision to spend time on those activities? And did you stick to that time? You will find that very often this is not the case. You need to develop the awareness of where you put your focus of attention and then having the courage to remember what you actually wanted to do. This as the ultimate path to being satisfied with your sabbatical in particular and your life in general. Funny enough, the same basic principle as applies to simple awareness of breathing exercises and other mindfulness practices.
Being effective – The courage to remember
Having the end in mind is essential for your mental balance and in order to formulate aspirations which can guide you day by day and week by week. Only the definition of clear and measurable intentions enables you to keep track of your course. Clear goals – like “I want to read one chapter of a book per day” or “I want to run 30km per week” – are measurable and achievable yet give you the freedom of how you allocate your time within a day or a week.

PURPOSE IN LIFE – part one and a half – finding purpose

Remember the purpose statement attempt from last week?

Here is more. And more hands-on.

Read through the following questions to better understand the implications of having purpose in life:

Do I have a sense of genuine happiness that glows deep inside of me?

Do I feel clear minded about the things I do – with the clarity coming easy to me?

Is it natural for me to come up with projects to grow, evolve, enhance or change what I do?

Do others seek me as an expert, teacher or consultant?

Have I never felt boredom – ever?

Am I relaxed and at ease with myself?

Am I less concerned about the daily news and have reduced reading newspapers?

Do I feel that I can choose my distractions wisely and consciously?

Does my mind become creative during leisurely activities?

When holidays end, do I look forward to going back to where I came from?

If you answer most of these questions with yes, then you very likely have found some kind of purpose in life. If not, find people around you who do answer these questions with yes!! Do it now! Because you are running out of time!!

Let me know whom you found. 

Here examples of purpose statements which were the outcomes of an exercise we did in one of my men’s groups: 

Purpose Statement 1 – Director Communications – Financial Industry

“My purpose in life is to make a positive contribution to the world by creating engaging and visually appealing messages [texts, photos, videos], to analyze, tell the truth, and to coach and mentor others so that they have the opportunity to excel in their jobs and in life.”

“My purpose in life is to help people cope, develop and heal by leading meaningful conversations and encounter individuals, couples and groups with empathy and enthusiasm.”

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