When I first had to shut down my office and start seeing clients online, I was horrified, thinking that there was no way counselling that was meaningful or effective could be done online. As it turns out, I was VERY wrong. The online platform has surprised me. I have been able to connect with clients as well, if not better, than if I were face-to-face. As I have to focus intently, I am able to attune and be more present for my client. A screen, versus in person, does not hinder my ability to “feel” my client. Additionally, my clients oftentimes feel more comfortable as they are in their own environment in which I am their “guest” rather than them being a “guest” in my office.
Yes, of course, technology comes with its headaches. Someone’s screen will freeze or there may be a poor connection, making communication more difficult. Well, we can sign off and restart the platform. It’s not the end of the world. There are a multitude of creative ways to get connected if connectivity is poor, so a solution is always available.
Working with children online has also proven to be surprisingly good. At times I will work with a parent/child dyad in a play session. We may not have the vast assortment of toys that are available in my playroom, but children get to show me their toys and their world. Again, I get a sense that the children too are more relaxed in session because of the familiarity of their own environment. And let’s not forget that children and teens are very comfortable with technology. Can I read their non-verbal cues? Of course I can. Can we co-regulate to encourage self-regulation? No problem. Do I see forward movement toward growth in the children using online counselling? Beyond a doubt and parents report the positive changes they are noticing too.
I am grateful that COVID-19 has provided me with an opportunity to experience online counselling as I never would have offered this otherwise. I would have missed an opportunity of being able to meet my clients’ needs in a different fashion, one that may actually be more comfortable and satisfying to them. Even horrific events like pandemics can provide us with blessings.