Hey there, it’s been a big year for all of us and many changes and strange happenings to get used to. The biggest change for me personally, is how I now work with clients.
The week before lockdown, I was seeing clients as usual, in my rooms, the same as I had been for the last decade. Chatting to clients after the sessions, we talked about the possibility of being put into forced lockdown and what that might be like. I don’t think any of us took it too seriously.
Then literally overnight, life as we knew it stopped and I could no longer see clients in my rooms. Clients could no longer get the support we had in place. After a few days of sitting and doing nothing, I put in place online counselling sessions using Zoom. I’d never heard of it before this and suddenly it is a major means of contact and work for many of us. What a strange situation!
The first online counselling sessions were a little strange to start. Sitting in an armchair, looking intently at a computer screen with my own face staring back at me along with my clients.
Adding to that, I have two Dobermans who are really giant lapdogs and part of our family. In past sessions, they have actually come into sessions (with dog loving people) and helped to calm people who are upset. When we think of therapy dogs, we think of Labradors or small dogs. Well the Doberman has a bad reputation that is really not true. Sure, they are loyal and will protect and they are strong. And yes, they can be trained to do some serious service work in keeping communities safe. But they have the most amazing gentle, loving side of them that wants to be near their people.
What I found was that they would enter the room, check the person who was there, and if they were alright, they would sit on the floor and sleep. If the person was upset, they would get close to them, sniff their face all over trying to say, “it’s ok”. And then sit close to them or lean on them.
Animals are amazing. My dogs no longer have a job but they do like to sit in Zoom sessions with me so you may see them bouncing into focus or trying to somehow fit onto my lap and say hello to you.
Online counselling sessions for me, became a place where I was still connecting with my clients and providing a counselling service, but somehow, instead of decreasing the connection, it seemed to make it closer. A little less formal, a little easier to connect with the person on the screen and overall a really great experience.
The human connection is still there for counselling which is really important.
What else is great?
Well so far I have Zoomed with the client:
- In the park on lunch break
- In their home office
- In their work office
- In their car (this seems to be a favourite!)
- In the same suburb
- In another country (explains the clock behind them being a different time!)
- On their lounge in their pajamas
- In their kitchen
- At a primary school on lunch break
- Driving home from work (phone for this one, not video)
- Kids on the laps
- Kids playing in the background
- Dogs saying hello. Many, many dogs!
I’m looking forward to more interesting sessions as we go along. Quite literally, wherever people are, they can jump in for a remote counselling session and then get back to what they are doing with no travel time.
Online counselling has made it more accessible for everyone, more relaxed and just as effective. The response from clients has been great too. Some told me they like to see me in person (they feel calm with me) but once they had tried an online counselling session and experienced how efficient and effective it is, they are happy sticking with remote counselling.
And so, from the lockdown that stopped me in my tracks delivering my service, I have a new way of delivering my skill set to people and I’ve decided to stick with it. I look forward to meeting you on Zoom in the future.