A lot has changed over the past few months. The coronavirus outbreak has impacted how we work, play, learn, and interact with one another.

Social distancing measures have forced some companies to close their doors, while others have had the chance to adjust their service delivery.

The coronavirus presented Relationships Australia QLD (RAQ) with the opportunity to fast-track the advancement of our online capabilities and continue to provide clients with the support they need.

Relationship Counsellor Shirley Hussie has been offering counselling sessions for individuals and couples over telephone and video chat. We asked her to share her experience with adapting to the disruption of COVID-19, and her advice for anyone considering online counselling.

 

Getting Up and Running

Shirley has been working from her home since Easter. Like many RAQ practitioners, she’s been providing counselling sessions via telephone and Zoom.

No one could have predicted the extent of the coronavirus crisis and how it would impact businesses so greatly, and Shirley praises RAQ for their rapid response.

“What they were able to accomplish in that first week was phenomenal with getting everyone set up to work remotely. Hats off to IT – they did an incredible job and were so helpful,” she says.

“The support that has been offered by Management has been extraordinary – that includes my Team Leader, Supervisor, and everyone up the line. I have felt so supported through the whole process, which has made the day-to-day challenges and changes easy and effortless.”

Shirley explains there were a few challenges at first, including feeling isolated and lonely without the face-to-face contact with other staff members. She also notes logistical bumps along the road.

“The initial challenge was gaining access to a computer and feeling comfortable and secure with using the technology – primarily Zoom. I used an older computer from the venue for the first week, after which time I was provided a brand new computer, which is fabulous,” she explains.

“RAQ offered loads of support around using Zoom and allowed plenty of time to become confident and competent with using it before going live with clients. I’m proficient with Zoom and love it now!”

Shirley commends her colleagues for being resilient, resourceful, and innovative, and continuing to provide quality services for clients during this time.

She thinks it’s important to embrace the changes caused by COVID-19, stating, “I believe the services provided to the clients via Zoom and telephone have been just as – if not more – powerful and transformative, as clients have the luxury of staying in the safety of their own home and don't have to deal with the stress of childcare, traffic, or taking time off work. I would love to continue offering Zoom sessions once we return to the mothership.”

Relationships Australia QLD counsellor working from home in bright home office

 

Online Counselling Tips for Couples

Our telephone and video counselling is a service provided to individuals and couples who need support or just want to talk. If you’re considering online couples counselling, you might find Shirley’s advice helpful.

“In regards to couples work, I encourage clients to take the same amount of time that they would travelling to the venue to connect with each other prior to the session. I suggest they also spend some time together and have a cup of tea or go for a walk and talk after each session,” she says.

“Couples have reported really enjoying this time, and it shows them they can have ‘date nights’ or ‘date breakfasts’ in the comfort of their own home, and that ‘date nights’ don’t have to be an extravaganza or expensive.”

Shirley explains that having couples counselling from home can encourage ongoing conversation in that space.

“Having the session in the comfort of their lounge chair gives them a template/association to having deep and meaningful conversation from their lounge chair,” she explains.

“Just as they associate the counselling room with time spent talking about their relationship, they now have this association with their lounge chair. I think this is a very positive thing and will have ongoing profound beneficial impacts on the relationship by creating the memory of being able to have difficult or challenging conversations in the comfort and safety of their own home.”

 

Our Remote Counselling Services

You can access our remote counselling services in these easy steps:

  1. Phone the Client Contact Centre (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm, Sat 10am-4pm): 1300 364 277
  2. You’ll be booked in with a practitioner for an appointment over the phone or over video
  3. If you’re booked in over video, you’ll be emailed an invitation link to the Zoom session
  4. When you click the Zoom link at the approved appointment time, you’ll be admitted into your private Zoom room with your practitioner.

 

Been online more than ever during the coronavirus? Stay safe with our article How to Protect Yourself Online During the Coronavirus.