It’s been noted often in the past: there is a stigma around ‘going to see the counsellor’ in many school settings. In many schools great work has been done to reduce this, including thoughtful placement of the counselling offices, proactive counsellors getting out into classrooms and students coming to see a visit to the counsellor much as to any other educator in the building.
But that kind of atmosphere takes time and skill to develop. And there will still be kids – very often the ones who most need support – not willing to cross the threshold.
Enter online counselling. Be it via video, Whatsapp chats or other text services, the online environment is where many students ‘live’ and the golden rule in counselling is to meet the client where they are. That’s why there has been a huge growth in online wellness services. And whilst there will always be comparisons made to traditional f2f counselling, many students simply feel this is a more flexible, more familiar and less threatening first step to getting the help they need.
Confidentiality remains a concern for many parents. And as secure as any online environment might be, it’s simply impossible to 100% GUARANTEE confidentiality, as one could in a f2f counselling session. Families do need to give explicit consent for online counselling and note that they have been made aware of the risks.