Earlier this month Kids Help Phone announced they will soon be offering a free texting support service for children and youth in crisis. The organization already offers phone and online chat support and hopes this service will be available by the end of this year. This is great news for our communities! It is another example of how technology is being used in creative ways to deliver quicker and more accessible mental health services.
As we all know the boom in technology over the past 20 years has had a huge impact. When it comes to offering mental health and counselling services, technology has opened up some new and exciting ways to increase accessibility to services. While counselling has traditionally been a series of 60 minute face to face sessions, the introduction of video, text based and chat services has meant people can have quicker access and tailor services to fit their particular needs.
Since the question of face to face vs online sessions often comes up - I want to be clear - face to face counselling will always have a real richness and value to it. It's the experience of sitting face to face with another person, the non-verbal communication and the value that comes with setting aside and time and physical space for conversations that cannot be replaced. However, there are also some great advantages to accessing online counselling which are worth considering:
Some caveats: When considering online therapy it's important to also exercise some caution - just as you would when seeking any therapist, ask yourself these important questions:
My hope is that I have expanded your ideas about what online therapy can offer. If you are interested in learning more about how my services may be helpful to you are someone you know please don't hesitate to get in touch!
To learn more about services with Kids Help Phone check out:
Below....a fond memory of my first phone - we've come a long way since then!
Partnering with a Wellness Centre has been a wonderful way to encourage a more holistic understanding of our emotional and physical well-being. Counselling is one of many services people can use to manage stress, improve relationships and commit to overall wellness.
If you have some time on November 5th come on out to Beechwood to say hi!
I have often commented that there should be a large balloon drop just as you enter my office….or for people who really don’t like balloons (I know a few) maybe celebratory music? A basket full of puppies? A plaque or trophy of some sort? There should be something to celebrate and acknowledge the strength and tremendous courage it takes to make it to your first counselling session.
Accessing counselling often requires much more than recognition and willingness. During my years working in mental health and addictions services I have met numerous families and individuals who faced the challenges of navigating a complicated system. They made the phone calls, endured countless wait lists, told their story multiple times, cleared their schedules,found a babysitter, got the time off work, and mustered up the courage to finally sit face to face with a therapist.
For individuals struggling with depression and anxiety, the very symptoms for which they seek relief can become the biggest barrier to getting help. Fatigue, panic, overwhelming emotions and negative thoughts can feed the urge to isolate rather than reach out.
And finally there is stigma. While we have made great strides in talking about mental health, there is still an underlying fear of being judged that can weigh heavily on someone considering counselling.
So….when you make that first call, block off the time in your schedule and make it to that first appointment please know: you are perceived as strong, capable and brave. It’s one of the few assumptions I allow myself to make in therapy, because I know and have been taught by clients to appreciate how much effort it takes to make that first call.
While there may not be a balloon drop once you make it to my office, rest assured there will be an acknowledgement and conversation about the strength it took to get you this far….