This is a reflection about counselling and our actual situation in Italy, I right live in Lombardy:
Some Italian colleagues are offering a free charge online service via Skype.
I believe this is a way to contribute to the situation we all are struggling with, each one through different manners. Even, it is a way to care for our community, about which one we are all responsible, like everyone else.
These are laudable initiatives, to those I adhered; meanwhile, I have some perplexities, which are the reason for this article. My aim is that it will motivate a profitable and positive discussion, that makes us develop, in our way.
I underline two perspectives: one of them is the specific professional side, the other one is about being online.
- they are chats: practically, by these online counselling meeting, people have the chance to express their worries about the period we are living now. ( this is what was said to me)
- the role. These meetings give people the chance to express their emotions; this aim matters a lot. But which is the reason for calling those “chats”? The use of that word implies an ambiguity, a not clear definition of the counsellors’ role. We are not friends of people who look for a counselling meeting, we will be online for our work because we are counsellors, so we don’t chat, we counsel. Even though it would only be a unique meeting, it is powerful, you know, so it deserves the importance it has, we can’t underestimate its power.
- our professional role is the reason because we are online for meeting people, for counselling sessions, they can’t be called “chats”.
- respect: it is the foundation of our practice, of mine for sure. When we encounter people for the first time, mostly online, we don’t know how their life was, we don’t know about what they went through. So, we can’t predict what is going to happen in the meeting, but we should be ready to hold and support people. In these days, we are in an unknown space, that could evoke old patterns, we should be conscious of that.
“It’s hard to understand how you’re feeling, or you don’t ever know. That’s why sometimes people seek counselling.” (Metta World Peace)
The last reflection above straight carries us to the online presence.
I don’t agree to the assumption that being face to face and online are the same setting; being online possibly is touchier than being face to face.
For working online is needed to be well-grounded, you can’t improvise it.
I am conscious that many colleagues don’t agree with me, as well as many colleagues have taken their specific training, like me. I am still waiting for rules issued by our Italian Counselling Associations who have been silent on this subject.
As a consequence of that all above:
- it would be better new counsellors don’t work online at their starting practice, even if they have few experiences: they should experience their practice face to face. They could face unexpected and sudden situations they can’t be able to deal with, due to the online setting and to some complex meetings.
- we shouldn’t forget the Internet disinhibition effect; we can see that everywhere, unfortunately. We should be ready to observe its presence. If we were conscious about the risk, we are in our professional role by safeguarding the client and ourselves. Here, you go back to the point above.
- specific issues of the online setting and environment, which are shared to all online helping professions. It could be wise to utilize other software that is much more safeguarding about cybersecurity. To be in an emergence doesn’t mean there are fewer risks, they might be much more.
- I assume colleagues are managing all of that thought of those risks and keep enough security measures.
- I assume that all aspects of privacy are going to be managed. They are much more delicate than face to face.
“Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.” (Oscar Wilde)
Goodwill and results:
Showing goodwill ever has a value, but it isn’t without a shadow of doubt value: goodwill should go to at the same speed with humility to don’t know and want to learn.
Salvatore Russo, an Italian web marketer expert, in a powerful face to face meeting for a Facebook group, le ROSA, told us a story, that I summarize here, but I can’t remind all the details.
In Spain, there is a village where an ancient and rare painting is shielded. It represents Christ’s face in all his human sufferance and pain. Even though time broke the colours, the image Salvatore showed us was very impressive.
The priest of that church saw that the painting needed to be renovated, but, you know, a renovation of that art is expensive; so he pondered it with his parishioners. A woman offered her help because she was a good handy one and had goodwill.
Salvatore showed us that woman’s image result …
In Italy, there is this idiomatic sentence: a shoe and a clog, “una scarpa e uno zoccolo” to show a big difference! The old one shared anything with the new painting: they both are shielded in the church, colours are more or less the same ones. That is all that they shared! The woman surely put a big effort, but what was the cost for the piece of Art?
It was crazy! Of course! There was a complaint from anywhere!
This is a heavy story, but it shows very well that goodwill isn’t enough, it should be dressed with the necessary training and care.
Maybe that woman decided to become an art conservator, who knows!
Thank you for your time and interest in reading this, your reflections will be welcomed!
The last note is about OLT Ltd. Thank you for your professional and empathic way to train, you are a great team!