Saturday, December 26, 2015

Videocounseling – It’s Here

Last Saturday half of our counseling sessions were via Skype video. What a difference a decade makes. What was not even thinkable back then is now a reality. So how do we feel about it?

At first we were kind of skeptical. We had not experienced telephone sessions to be as engaging as in-person contact. Could we emotionally connect with clients adequately over a video call? Could we read their body language accurately? Would the client feel as cared about through the web connection? (OK, there is no hugging and sometimes that’s a problem.) So what were our conclusions?

With the current state of computers and video devices plus increased Internet speeds, the quality of most connections are adequate or better. Especially with clients that we have previously counseled in person, the transition is easy.

What are some advantages of video counseling? 
  • No time spent commuting. It’s really convenient.
  • No travel expense or traffic
  • No babysitter needed for some
  • Flexible locations for both clients and counselors. Our clients have even called in on mobile devices from their cars, etc.
  • Out of the area sessions are possible
  • Emergency cancellations can be filled with a telecommute when their isn’t enough time to travel to the office.
  • Some clients may feel more comfortable in their own home with a bit more separation
  • You can keep your cold to yourself 

What are some of the downsides? 
  • There is some preparation involved
  • Sometime connections are not very good or may be dropped
  • Children or other interruptions may occur
  • Whiteboard illustrations are more difficult
  • Handouts must be emailed (minor inconvenience)
  • It just feels different 

Just like in corporate businesses where video conferencing and huddle-room conferencing is increasing, so is the likelihood that telecounseling will grow as well. What that means for us is to be aware of the changing trend and to keep our eye on improvements in technology so that clients can have as good an experience as possible. It also means that we are realistic about the limitations and stay abreast of current laws and regulations.

So what are your feelings and thoughts about video counseling? Please respond!