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My experience with tele counselling and older adults

My experience with tele counselling and older adults

At Samvedna we offer various mental health services such as assessments, cognitive screening, memory screening and counselling for individuals and families. Before the COVID outbreak we followed the traditional approach and interacted with our clients in person.  The interaction benefits both the therapist and the patient as it is highly personalized, physical proximity is reassuring and communication happens at multi-sensory levels. With social distancing norms in place it will be sometime before confidence is restored in physical personal interactions with each other.

Teleconsulting has gained rapid momentum and doctor consultations, counselling have moved online. With help of technology there are many possibilities and opportunities in clinical services, including online counselling for elderly. It allows us to reach out and provide counseling or therapy services to a much larger pool of clients and their families and does not restrict to any geography or location. Through online sessions, we are also able to provide senior home care services like guidance, counselling and consultation.

So when I moved to online counselling with my 70+ year client who is seeking help for caregiver stress it was not such an uphill task. Initially it took a demo session to create awareness on the use of technology, but with some instructions she could follow the steps easily. With each session she has shown a significant comfort level in sharing and communicating with me. I find that both the client and I project more authentic versions of ourselves from the comfort of our own homes. One of the things I place most emphasis on is the integrity of the therapeutic relationship and also setting up some protocols as we are connecting through a screen.

Some beneficial aspects of virtual counselling/therapy include:

  1. Flexibility in scheduling
  2. Saves time on commute
  3. Less expensive
  4. Comfort in familiar settings
  5. Non-judgemental and safe environment

Of course there are times when technological glitches such as internet connection strength or problems with the video chat, echoing, low resolution video feeds crop up but they can be managed. In these unprecedented times, it is of utmost importance that we overcome these minor hurdles and offer the best of senior citizen care at home through online sessions.

The experience of online counselling is a positive experience and is a rapidly expanding means of providing and receiving therapy. Since social distancing norms are going to be around for the next few months of this year it’s time for us to adopt technology and move on to newer ways of providing and seeking mental health support. For any of you out there seeking help please reach out to your counsellor or therapist and get connected online. The COVID19 pandemic has created new norms of social behavior for networking and connecting with each other.

The author, Dimple Adhikari, is a social worker with specialization in dementia and  geriatric mental health.

We, at Samvedna, understand mental health needs and strive to support anyone seeking help. We provide counselling support for families, professionals and organizations to deal with stress, anxiety, grief, bereavement, work life balance, retirement planning, caregiver stress and age related disorders. We also conduct online workshops for employee engagement and counselling to cope with the COVID19 crisis.

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