I am back from the OCTIA conference in Bristol, England. It was everything I had hoped for and I can recommend it to everyone.

The atmosphere at the conference is relaxed and respectful towards everyone as well as a delegate at the location or if you are following online through onlinevents.

The day started off with a lecture on websites and marketing by Gill Jones. It was very interesting for those who have not thought much about marketing yet and it gave me some great new tips to try out as well. And it was a very good start to the day.

It was followed by a lecture by Tim Bond on ethical and legal issues for Online Counsellors. This is an issue that I take very seriously, clients need to know that we work with high standards and working with us is safe. The lecture was very informative and again for me made clear that as a European Union we have to work closer and standardise things like the data protection act. So that there is one entry point in Europe were you can get this code and it is valid for clients from the whole European Union. I am sure we will get there one day. Right now I do inform my clients through my website and contract that I am very careful with their data and it is stored on a password protected hard disc stored in a locked cupboard.

After lunch there was a mindblowing lecture by Kate Anthony on the future developments in Online Counselling. Through examples [videos]  she showed how virtual reality is already used in therapy and might be used even more in the future. I am interested in this but right now the technology is a bit beyond me. I just manage to get my avatar dressed in Second Life. Yet I do see the huge advantage of this kind of therapy. You can meet with the client in any kind of environment, a place they want to show you or somewhere they feel safe. Who knows in 10 years time we might be using holographic therapy, I do feel like the sky is the limit here.

The following presentation was very close to my heart. Chloe Morton and Jessica Shaw talked about cybermentors for children. They train children to mentor others and kids with all kinds of problems can find help online. Of course there are adult volunteer staff as well. So many young children are online these days but do not know how to protect themselves online and that way can get into huge problems. Projects like this are much needed.

Already it was time for the last lecture by Stephanie Palin on understanding online sex addiction. Again lots of new information delivered with passion. I now have a much better idea about when watching porn becomes an addiction and to understand there is much more behind it than just wanting to watch porn. 

We had one extra. A video about psychological counselling online in Lithuania. Vilma Kurzieme talked about her work in Lithuania in a pre-recorded message. It is great to hear about their work and I know how passionate she is about it! And it shows online counselling is growing fast throughout the whole of the European union.

Too soon it was time to leave. It had been a great day with lots of new information and meeting great people. Many I had already met online but it is so great to meet in person as well. And to make new friends. Already looking forward to next year!

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