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Review of Zoom

31 May 2016    

Review by Dr Carole Francis-Smith, a BPS chartered and HCPC registered counselling psychologist, currently working in private practice.

Zoom

Description: Zoom is designed for online meetings by IM, Video or audio communications. It can be used for 1-to-1 communications but has many applications to use for group meetings, and is available for use on most desktop, tablet or mobile devices. Zoom has file sharing, screenshare and annotation capabilities. It comes with different packages, some of which have cost implications (discussed later).

Setting up: Easy set up with email and password requirement. There is then a short profile section to fill in. Zoom’s website is very explanatory and there are lots of useful video tutorials, IM support and the option for a demo (via the sales team). Most of the information regards setting up video conferencing/ webinars and in truth I found the array of options a bit confusing. There is an option to schedule a meeting or host one immediately, and invite people by email or IM (if they already have a Zoom account). Even after watching some tutorials I still had to contact the IM service to ask a few questions before hosting a meeting then inviting a guest.

Client experience: If invited via email a user can follow the link and is guided through a short download process, before finding how to join the meeting. The straightforwardness of the download is linked to what type of system you have – details of how to manage this are on the website.

Ongoing use: The host has control over when to end the meeting but attendees can enter and leave at their behest (probably more relevant if having a group meeting). The picture and sound quality were very clear both ends of the process in our test. After entering the meeting room there are options to move or make the video bigger or smaller, chat by IM and record the conversation if you wish. Both attendees have access to the screenshare option and annotation abilities, although the host can lock this if required. Once set up and connected it was very straightforward.

Security: Zoom is a USA based company with servers in the USA. If you would like to read more about how Zoom attends to data protection issues please follow the link to their ‘features’ page. You can be excused for feeling confused about the most recent advice regarding safety of data and legal jurisdiction for online practitioners. Philippa has very up to date and understandable advice in this area – please follow her link to learn more

Cost: There are several packages.

Basic – this is free and allows meetings of up to 50 participants. 1 to 1 communications are unlimited in time and amount, but group meetings are restricted to 40 minutes.

Pro - $14.99 and Business $19.99 – both Pro and Business offer the same as the Basic plus unlimited group meeting minutes…Plus a whole array of business, hosting and connection options that are honestly too vast to go into here. There is a specific breakdown on their website under ‘Standard plans’ if you are interested.

Advantages

  • Zoom offers a video communications system for free unlimited 1-to-1 meetings. Group meetings can have up to 200 video participants.
  • It is available to use on a wide range of internet communication and hardware systems.
  • Support is offered via; video tutorials, IM chat and a demo (if requested).
  • The system has file sharing, screenshare and annotation capabilities.
  • After initial set up and entering the meeting room the system is very straightforward to follow.
  • The quality of sound and video was excellent.

Disadvantages

  • There were some issues regarding the program download either end of the process. These were overcome but might be off-putting, especially for an already struggling client.
  • There is so much information regarding multiple occupancy meeting set-ups it felt a bit over-whelming initially. However, after entering the meeting space things were much more straightforward, and a sort of calm came over me (-:
  • If you were hoping to use this for group meetings (or supervision) the Free version only offers 40 minutes of time in one go – although you can restart another session immediately after.
  • The system is not HIPAA compliant, if this is what you are looking for. Although you can purchase this through a business option.

These reviews were conducted on therapist usability basis and are not a definitive guide. Usability is affected by; what type of computer, computer program and broadband service you, and the person you are connecting with, utilise. The reviews are intended to provide helpful information for therapists looking for an online platform.

Philippa has produced a very useful Online Platforms Comparison Summary, designed to help you decide on a platform that suits you. To view a quick comparison of all software log in to your member account here. If you are not yet a member, join here to have access to a variety of exclusive resources and special offers.

 

 

About The Author

Dr Carole Francis-Smith is a BPS chartered and HCPC registered counselling psychologist, currently working in private practice. Carole provides therapy both in-person and online from her base near Bristol, and also offers training in mental health issues to organisations. Having undertaken doctoral research into ‘Email therapy and the therapeutic relationship’ Carole has developed a special interest in the process of online communications, and  is committed to the promotion of safe online practice. With this in mind Carole also offers training for new therapists contemplating online working, bespoke training to complement core therapy trainings, and also with businesses to improve communication networks.

Please feel free to contact her by email, visit her website and read a blog she wrote called ‘Therapy through the looking glass; implications for training and beyond…’ on aspects of her research, published on the Online Therapy Institute website.