Friday, 23 August 2019

Videophone Counseling: Who Benefits?



Videophone Counseling: Who Benefits? featuring Sharon introducing the concept of online/virtual counselling. 

It’s hard to believe 16 years have flown by since we brought online counselling sessions to the Deaf community for the first time in 2003. Thanks to Sorenson for distributing the first videophones to the Deaf community, which made this possible. Transcript: For some time now, people have been asking if it’s possible to use the videophone (VP) for psychological services. We’ve been using this new modality of counselling for a while here at ASC. When most people think of counseling, they envision the counsellor and client sitting down together in the same room. VP counselling is different. 

It’s actually not a new idea though. Starting in the 1950s, the military used telehealth technology to provide counselling services to remote bases where there were no counsellors available. So, the idea of telehealth counselling is not new, but it is somewhat new in the Deaf community. We’re seeing it slowly being made more available. My experience with VP counselling has been very positive. It’s a nice option for many people. One example is people who live far away, or in another state where there are no good Deaf services available, can benefit from VP counselling. 

Second, other people may live far away, but prefer not to see their local Deaf counsellor because they already know the counsellor or don’t feel comfortable with that counsellor or they just prefer to work with someone outside their community. VP counselling is a nice option. A third example is people who can’t drive or who don’t have a car, who may be sick or too weak to travel, or who can’t afford to buy gas. They can also benefit from VP access to counselling. Fourth, people who may feel anxious or uncomfortable about going into a counsellor’s office, but who do want to start counselling, can do VP sessions to start with, then perhaps go to the office for sessions. Finally, many people are very busy these days and find it hard to fit an appointment into their schedules, due to time conflicts or wanting to spend evenings with their families. 

They can set up VP counselling sessions during their lunch or break times at work. There are some differences between in-office counselling sessions and VP sessions. In the former, the counsellor can see the client’s full-body, how they walk, if they are limping, if they have vision issues or a limited range of vision. Body language is obvious. With VP counselling, it’s possible for the counsellor to overlook or not realize some things. A client might have Usher Syndrome, for instance, but see well enough to communicate easily via VP, and never share this with the counsellor. Someone might have difficulty walking, but it’s not apparent to the counsellor through the VP. That’s why it’s especially important to share information with the counsellor. 

 Overall, I’ve found VP counselling to be such a nice option. It’s perfect for people who have no local options for in-office counselling sessions. Thank you. (video description: Sharon is sitting in an armchair and signing.)