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More than Cat Pictures: e-Counselling in the Post-Secondary Environment


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This Deep Dive Session was held at the 2016 Healthy Minds | Healthy Campuses Summit in Vancouver, BC. This working session initiated a conversation about e-counselling in a post-secondary context. Participants heard from counselling professionals with a range of comfort and experience, explored some of the barriers and successes in this realm, discussed concerns, and collaborated to develop more informed post-secondary e-counselling practices.

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More than Cat Pictures: e-Counselling in the Post-Secondary Environment

  1. 1. MORE THAN CAT PICTURES E-COUNSELLING IN POST-SECONDARY ENVIRONMENTS A deep dive working session facilitated by: UVic – Dawn Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP TRU – Cliff Robinson, MEd UBC – Cheryl Washburn, PhD, RPsych BCIT – Alayna Kruger, MA, RCC
  2. 2. WHAT IS E-COUNSELLING? Telepsychology (aka e-counselling) is defined as: • The provision of psychological services using telecommunication technologies including, but not limited to, telephone, mobile devices, interactive videoconferencing, email, chat, text, and Internet – i.e. self-help websites, blogs, and social media. The information that is transmitted may be in writing, or include images, sounds or other data. • These communications may be synchronous with multiple parties communicating in real time (e.g. interactive videoconferencing, telephone) or asynchronous (e.g. email, online bulletin boards, storing and forwarding information). • Technologies may augment traditional in-person services (e.g., psychoeducational materials online after an in-person therapy session), or be used as stand-alone services (e.g., therapy or leadership development provided over videoconferencing).Source: APA standards around Telepsychology
  3. 3. COUNTRIES OFFERING E-COUNSELLING FOR PS STUDENTS • UK • Ireland • New Zealand • Australia • Singapore • South Korea • Greece • Denmark • Philippines • Canada • Romania • India • Malaysia • South Africa • Nigeria • USA
  4. 4. COMMENTS FROM E-PRACTITIONERS IN PS • We find that the students find online counselling far less 'odd' or 'innovative' than we do - it is part of their world of communication and they do so many other things online, this hardly seems odd to them! • We have been offering counselling by email exchange since 2006 and it is now well embedded into our counselling service and runs alongside the face to face service we offer to students • Distance learners seemed to find the service helpful...allowing them access...often for the first time. • Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Comments from: Nottingham Trent University, University of Portsmouth, Auckland Institute of Technology, deMontfort University, University of Plymouth, Oxford Brookes University
  5. 5. GOOD PRACTICES • Training in Online Counselling for Counsellors • Regular Supervision with supervisor experienced in Online counselling • Encrypted Email system or some other method of encryption (e.g. password protected Microsoft Word documents) • Teach students how to preserve their own privacy • Teach students how to make the most of Online counselling • Clear, specific parameters for Online counselling (e.g. response times, expectations, how to express self in text) • Don’t assume it will work for everyone
  6. 6. CANADA’S CONTEXT Offering e-counselling services • University of Toronto • Confederation College • Nippissing University • UPEI, Lethbridge College, Saint Mary’s University & Nova Scotia Community College – through Shepell Student Support Program Considering or have considered • McMaster University in 2010 • Kwantlen invested in research and design of an e-counselling system in 2011 • UVIC - currently working on a pilot project • George Brown College - currently working on a pilot project
  7. 7. BUT DOES IT WORK? • Online counselling has been used since 1998 • Extensively researched counseling And that’s just the articles up to March 2015 • Most EAPs or EFAPs in Canada offer e-counselling services