Counselling Services Continuing at St Patrick’s College
August 5, 2020
In these uncertain, strange and often difficult times, we want to first thank you for prioritising your son’s education.
Amidst the myriad challenges we are facing, receiving traditional education in this untraditional setting is in turn likely to give rise to untraditional issues.
During this flux, the counselling team would like you know that our services are still being offered –
Regular individual counselling sessions will still take place for students of St Patrick’s College.
As of now, if your son is learning from home, he will be able to access his assigned counsellor (either Eric, Chelle or Jay) via Microsoft Teams.
In the spirit of keeping everyone as up-to-date as possible, we wanted to outline the process of online counselling, and what this could potentially look like. We have broken the information up into sections for your perusal:
For your son, the first point of contact is email. We encourage all students who wish to seek counselling support to email firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also be reaching out to our regular clientele via email.
Once an ‘appointment’ is scheduled, students will receive an invitation to a Microsoft Teams meeting. They will then click ‘join Meeting’ as it appears on their email at the agreed upon time.
At the onset of our scheduled meeting, we will need to know the student’s whereabouts (eg.whether he is at mum’s, dad’s, uncle’s house etc), and will also inquire as to whether there is at least one adult present in the house, in keeping with current Telehealth industry standards (consideration will be given to students who may be required to be alone at home during this time).
We understand that losing the face-to-face communication that students usually receive from their counsellor can be disconcerting. In an effort to maintain the levels of communication we ordinarily enjoy, the counselling team is integrating video calling into our practice.
As such, a two-way video chat may be appropriate in certain circumstances, based on the individual needs and wishes of the student. Students who opt for video calling will need to ensure they are appropriately clothed and seated in an upright position, with no personal items visible in the background where possible. Counsellors who opt to share their video will be in appropriate attire, with a background clear of any visible personal items, or may utilise Microsoft Team’s ‘background blur’ feature.
We would prefer for students to not be on video call in their bedrooms, however we understand that for many, this will be the only location where they will be able to have a confidential chat with a therapist.
We will strive to apply the same industry standards of face-to-face confidentiality to our online practice.
As a general reminder, the basic guidelines remain the same – information shared during a counselling session is private and confidential, accessed only by the counselling team. Information shared with teachers, parents and external agencies are subject to the student’s consent. Relevant information regarding students who are being supported through counselling may be discussed in case management meetings with relevant staff members. Information disseminated in this context is limited to a ‘needs-to-know’ basis. Information may only be shared without a student’s consent if someone has been or is in imminent danger of being harmed.
Our offices/home offices will be clear of the presence of anyone else living in our household. We will be operating from private spaces out of the earshot of any other individual.
Likewise, students are encouraged to find a space that is as confidential as possible. Ideally, we would like to see students seated privately at a table in their living/dining room as opposed to their bedrooms, however if the Wi-Fi connection is strong, one may even find privacy in the garden/backyard! Where possible, we would greatly appreciate parent’s support in accommodating the privacy of their sons who are in a counselling session.
Using headphones with a decent microphone is encouraged. Some students may wish to use Microsoft Team’s ‘chat’ feature to convey personal information. While we are unlikely to traverse into this space from a therapeutic perspective due to a lack of data encryption, we understand that some information may be communicated via this feature.
As usual, case notes will be compiled by the counsellors undertaking the sessions. These case notes will be stored in our usual secure physical and/or digital spaces. These notes will only be accessible to the counselling team, except in the event of a court order.
Assessment and referral:
Where required, counsellors will email students the relevant assessment forms (for example the DASS-21 which measures scores of depression, anxiety and stress). Accordingly, we may make appropriate referrals to external agencies such as psychologists, Headspace, etc.
We will still contact parents where needed.
We understand that this is a strange time. At the risk of overusing this word, we are facing ‘unprecedented’ challenges. While we will always strive for a proactive and preventative approach, there are likely to be certain challenges which will present themselves along the way.
We ask for your patience while we work through them, keeping in mind that our priority both as the counselling team as well as the school is the wellbeing of our boys.
Please encourage your sons to seek the mental health support they would normally receive at school.
If parents have any questions or concerns for their son, feel free to email email@example.com.
If you wish to speak with your son’s individual counsellor, our email addresses are as follows:
Eric Hayes – firstname.lastname@example.org
Michelle (Chelle) Norton – email@example.com
Jehan (Jay) Katrak – firstname.lastname@example.org