Counselling, Technology & Relationship
As times change so do the way services are provided. This can be said for counselling and therapeutic services. Most people in society are consuming online information at rates never seen before which requires counsellors, especially new ones, to adapt in an effort to support clients.
When I decided to start my own counselling business, I spent time compiling a list of resources and mediums counsellors use to engage with clients and prospective clients. They use social media and websites to advertise and promote their businesses. There are lots of new and innovative ways to build relationship including forums, online groups, podcasts, vlogs and blogs. Contact can be made through text, email, phone call, and video chat. Additionally, there are a variety of resources for use as psychoeducational material, self-help, or informative “homework,” including PDF’s, ebooks, audio files, youtube videos, worksheets, and webinars.
With the digital age and it’s resource offerings and points of contact the question becomes, "Has counselling changed?" I believe the answer is, sort of. I think the many ways in which we support our clients has developed. With internet, video, and new support ideas (translators, 24 hour hotlines, and online chat support, etc.,), we are capable of providing assistance with an added layer of depth and nuance. We can reach communities and individuals in need that may have been neglected in the past due to barriers such as distance, location and language.
What remains constant regardless of technology, fancy presentation and cutting edge delivery is the foundation of any good counselling practice: relationship.
As I step out and create this new business and try to find my niche in a saturated counselling market, I have stuck my fingers in a lot of pies. I've attempted a multitude of things including a website, social media, forum, blog and podcast. I love them. I am passionate about them and desire to have people see who I am through my work. I am not trying to change the client-counsellor relationship because I believe relationship facilitates change. Instead, I am working to meet people where they are at, in a busy, hectic, chaotic, fast paced world.
There is something special about the connectedness in a counselling relationship. I have long loved to hear the stories of others. I feel honored to witness people's pain and provide an empathetic, compassionate and non-judgemental environment for that to occur. I believe there is something sacred about the work counsellors do. I hope technology doesn't get in the way of that but rather enhances it and allows the arm of aid to stretch to all those who are in need.
I come from the microgeneration of Xennials who grew up during a time that was free of technology and then transitioned to its expansion and societal reliance. As a result, I endeavour to be a counsellor who does the same; wherein, we learn to marry the foundational relationship of counselling to the reach and expanse of technology. My hope is to use this combination to create community. One where mental health isn't treated like a dirty secret. A place where we can hold space for others as they heal. The tenets of counselling shouldn’t change with presentation and delivery. Technology should act as a conduit to provide help to those who need it, in a way they want to receive it.
So maybe a better way to answer the question, “Is technology changing counselling?” is to say, “I hope so.” As counsellors it is important for us to remember technology is a tool. We can use it to reach and support people at a time and place of the client’s choosing. My counselling philosophy is that people are capable of making change and leading the way to the betterment of their own mental health, and if we can use technology to this end, amazing. Technology is rapidly evolving and creating an increasing desire for automation. Also, it can provide a false sense of connectedness that comes across as superficial and, in the end, leads to a generation of people who feel increasingly disconnected. So it is up to us to ensure the relationship remains and we keep this vital service client centered and client-focused. If we can keep the needs of the client at the forefront and use technology, if necessary, to support those needs, we will make strides to the removal of barriers to service.
If you have any questions about what to look for in a counselling relationship please contact me. If you are a counsellor and want to discuss how you can put some technological supports in place in your practice, I would also love to chat.