When Lawrence Murphy and I were co-presenting “Taking Career Counselling Online” at Cannexus13 we asked participants what they wanted to learn in our session. Practical tips and resources was one of the requests. Time management was another. As one person said “how do you manage your time so that what would be an hour in person doesn’t end up as three hours writing?” Good questions. Sounded like a great topic for a blog post to me!
Here’s some tips for asynchronous text-based counselling.
Just as I would for an in-person counselling session I make sure I am not going to be interrupted – close my office door, unplug the phone, mute the alerts on my laptop, ensure I can’t see incoming emails, put the cat out, etc.
I read through a client’s entire message and then take a few moments to think about what the main issues are and what exercises/resources/information I might wish to share with my client. If there are multiple issues I make a determination about what to focus on.
Over time I have compiled a list of useful worksheets/workbook, articles and other therapeutic tools that I keep in a Client Information file. I have also used these web resources (amongst many others).
In terms of creating a sense of presence and establishing a working alliance with the client I use descriptive immediacy, emotional bracketing and descriptive imagery (for more details see my blog post from May 30, 2011 http://www.ccpa-accp.ca/blog/?p=502)
There’s also spacing and pacing. For example, if I want someone to slow down and take time to absorb what I am saying I might use spaces
pace of reading.
Another thing I do is match [as closely as possible] my language to that of my clients. By that I mean that if they misspell a word I will purposely misspell it as well. It’s subtle but important I think. I don’t want to make my clients feel they are ‘wrong’ and so I don’t correct their spelling or grammar.
I match their level of language as much as possible – paying attention to their use of language and sentence structure. Kinda like mirroring our client’s posture in a face-to-face session.
To help me with time management the first thing I do is set a timer! And the more online counselling I do the better I am at managing my time. I don’t always manage to do it within the 50 – 60 minute range. When I find myself spending more than that I have trained myself to stop and ask the question – “am I trying to do too much here? What would I be doing differently if this person was actually in my office?”
And sometimes I just need to hit send and [gulp] accept that it’s not perfect.
What tips and resources do you have to share?
Dawn M. Schell, MA, CCC, CCDP is an affiliate of Worldwide Therapy Online Inc. http://www.therapyonline.ca
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA