Does Virtual/Online Counseling Work? 2007

Videophone and Internet-based Counseling: Who Benefits? One more video from our archives, this one from 2007, featuring Sharon introducing the concept of online/virtual/videophone counseling. It’s hard to believe 16 years have flown by since we brought online counseling 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) or virtual for psychological services. We’ve been using this new modality of counseling for a while here at ASC. When most people think of counseling, they envision the counselor and client sitting down together in the same room. Videophone or internet-based counseling is different. It’s actually not a new idea though. Starting in the 1950’s, the military used telehealth technology to provide counseling services to remote bases where there were no counselors available. So, the idea of telehealth counseling is not new, but it is somewhat new in the Deaf community. We’re seeing it slowly being made more available. My experience with videophone counseling 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 videophone counseling. Second, other people may live far away, but prefer not to see their local Deaf counselor because they already know the counselor or don’t feel comfortable with that counselor or they just prefer to work with someone outside their community. Virtual counseling 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 videophone access to counseling. Fourth, people who may feel anxious or uncomfortable about going into a counselor’s office, but who do want to start counseling, can do online 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 videophone counseling sessions during their lunch or break times at work.

There are some differences between in-office counseling sessions and VP or online sessions. In the former, the counselor 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 counseling, it’s possible for the counselor to overlook or not realize some things. A client might have Usher Syndrome, for instance, but see well enough to communciate easily via VP, and never share this with the counselor. Someone might have difficulty walking, but it’s not apparent to the counselor through the VP. That’s why it’s especially important to share information with the counselor.

Overall, I’ve found VP counseling to be such a nice option. It’s perfect for people who have no local options for in-office counseling sessions. Thank you.

(video description: Sharon is sitting in an armchair and signing.)




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