With the looming uncertainty of the COVID-19 stilling hanging over the heads of global citizens, a report by the World Health Organization released in October 2020 indicates that the pandemic “has disrupted or halted critical mental health services in 93% of countries worldwide with the demand of mental health [continues to increase].” A recent study by Singaporean researchers indicates the rise in prevalence of mental health predominantly in at-risk citizens, including “those who have suffered from COVID-19 or whose family members were infected, and those whose income or basic needs have been affected.”
Additionally, patience with a history of mental health disorders are also predisposed to being unable to cope effectively during these times. Furthermore, the study suggests a greater risk of domestic abuse instances as well. These alarming results indicate the need for increased access to online counselling resources for individuals and couples across Singapore. Therefore, we have gathered helpful tips for therapists to utilize online counselling methods to further counselling sessions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to Hold Online Counseling for Individuals and Couples Successfully
Pay Attention to New Challenges Patients Are Facing
Whether you are performing individual or relationship counselling online, it is essential to be aware of the numerous challenges patients face as a result of the pandemic. Most notably, focus on the following triggers that could be causing distress, including:
Financial stress and uncertainty due to loss of income and loss of livelihood
Feelings of depression and anxiety due to isolation
Grief caused by the death of a loved one
Communication issues within couples
Frequent arguments between couples
Potential signs of domestic abuse
While these scenarios may already be precursive to your patient’s mental well-being, it is essential to remember that the stress alone caused by COVID-19 will heighten the severity of pre-existing conditions and develop new ones.
The Benefits of Holding Online Counselling
While holding online counselling can be new territory for many therapists, many benefits come with maintaining your sessions online apart from remaining socially distant. Therefore, by appreciating the following services, you can encourage more people experiencing mental health problems to seek help. Some advantages of individual and couples counselling online include:
The ability to make a flexible schedule and last-minute appointments in times of emergency
The opportunity to gain more insight into your client’s home life and their environment
The ability to help clients work through the mental health problems at an accelerated rate with more frequent appointments will increase muscle memory of how to cope in their environment.
Take Advantage of Online Software
To achieve success in your online counselling sessions with patients and couples, it’s essential to take advantage of the features of the software you choose to utilize. Regardless of the software you use, make sure to have the following features available to you as it will help you with the overall effectiveness of your session and be of value to your patients:
Screen record feature that allows you to record your sessions. This can be extremely helpful for patients to review techniques you have taught them throughout their session with you to study and practice when they are on their own.
The ability for more than one client to join at a time. Whether it is couples counselling or group therapy, this feature will allow you to have more than one patient present at a time, which can help patients feel connected to others during this time.
Online Platforms That Support These Features
We have put together a list of free and paid platforms that includes these features for ease of reference. The platforms are:
An essential aspect of all technology is ensuring that there is a good Wi-Fi connection to connect to this software and ensure that you have a reliable device with access to video and a microphone to see and hear your patients throughout their session. It is crucial to ensure your connection and technology are working before your session, so you do not experience technical difficulties during your therapy conference and in times of emergencies.
If You Are Unable to Do Online Counseling
If you cannot navigate using technological solutions for your online counselling sessions, there are solutions for you to provide your expertise still. Shared counselling spaces are a convenient way to provide individual and couples counselling online without setting up any technology.
For example, A Space Between provides a safe space for therapists to conduct sessions if they do not have their own mental health practice. Places such as these allow you to pay a rental fee for the room for as long as you wish from a secure and quiet location if you are unable to find a moment of calm at home. This allows you to see your patients throughout the pandemic without cutting back on your hours. Most notably, they are open 24 hours a day, every single day of the year. This allows both patients and therapists to use the facility in emergency times while providing a quiet and confidential area.
As you can see, the changing landscape caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant disruption in all sectors of the economy, public health and lives of citizens worldwide. Now more than ever, it is vital to ensure that citizens are able to have access to counselling to deal with their mental health problems in a time of unparalleled uncertainty. As we navigate obstacles such as the access to mental health care, we must remember to utilize our professional knowledge and work with technology to bring solace to those who feel isolated during these times.