After one month of working from distance with our clients, we can find out only one thing. Definitely all clients as well as counselors want to continue with meetings in person as soon as possible.
Transition to work via electronic devices was easy and very successful. Agreed appointments were not cancelled. We also had our first assessment online. Lucky the family was well familiar with digital tools and we did not need too much time to establish contact. Even before the isolation we have already had a small number of counselling sessions online due to different reasons. However we did not have the experience of an initial assessment online. Even for cities which are far from our offices, have families come to meet us in person and discuss difficulties regarding excessive use of the internet. Always in person. Counselling via telephone, skype, discord or other tools we have used before with clients with whom we have already established a relationship in person beforehand.
Login instead of Logout
In the time of isolation the dynamic of counselling work has changed. Outside world, which for some clients is full of fears and insecurity, has this time only made their feelings stranger and their anxiety bigger. We have noticed an increase in clients who have been with us before and previously successfully completed the program. However due to the insolation they have started spending again more time in front of the screen behind four walls - repetition of login. Online counselling from participants demands greater attention and concentration. Counsellor uses more energy, also because it is more difficult to notice nonverbal communication. Silence, even if just for a second is experienced differently compared to when meeting in person. Young people lose concentration quicker, which is expected, which is why we have adjust their sessions, for example shorter sessions, but more often. Some clients at home do not have privacy and they prefer telephone conversation instead of a video call, or some choose the environment where they feel comfortable. Whether we used Skype, Zoom, Discord, Jitsi, some clients quickly changed day for night, and forgot sessions or attended sessions half asleep. On the other hand are examples when users already login to a session a few minutes before the appointment and wait patiently.
To ensure that we truly support our client holistically even when they do not have booked sessions, we have stepped closer to them and into their space. On the field, we have created an on-call room for conversations and socialisation on Discord. Also we continue with our regular drawing groups with our clients. While we had to temporarily stop groups for parents. To compensate this, we have increased individual counselling support given to parents via phone.
Because we are a non-governmental organisation, we are swift and flexible. Our work is also our mission. Therefore we are looking towards the aim that we provide quality support to our clients, especially during this unusual time. In the past days we have collected some of their anonymous feedback. Our question was how they experience online counselling. Nearly all of our clients prefer face-to-face counselling:
○ They can relax better.
○ They find it easier to communicate about general themes.
○ They find it really easier to trust and communicate about intimate themes.
○ They maintain attention better.
○ There are less disruptions and distractions.
We also wanted to know what they like in online sessions and with which type of counseling they would want to continue in the future.
Only thing I like about this at the moment is that I do not need to drive or come to the location.
The citation above is actually the most common reason, which our clients identify as a positive side comparing online counselling and counselling in person. However for us counsellors also the journey to and from the counselling office is an important part of the counselling process. Survey results show:
- 67% clients cannot wait to contione with face-to-face sessions.
- 27% clients would like to combine online counselling with face-to-face counselling.
- 6% clients would prefer to have online session in the future.