ExpatCounsellingNow

Counselling for Expats

Complementary Online Counselling for schools

A proposal

About me

I have taught internationally for over 25 years, in eight countries, on three continents. In the last ten years or so of that time, I was a school counsellor. I have post-graduate Diplomas in Counselling and Cognitive Behavioural Counselling and am currently completing my final thesis for my second Masters, an M.Sc. Psychology with the University of Derby, in the UK.


As a seasoned School Counsellor, I can offer pastoral and academic counselling to middle and high school students, either taking individual referrals from School Counsellors, where the families would pay for counselling, or through a more systematic arrangement with a particular school, which would retain my services for an academic year, paying consultancy fees.


This arrangement works for smaller schools, where there is no resident counsellor or perhaps only one for the whole school, where even brief counselling may be a difficult timetabling option. It also works for larger schools with counselling departments, where counsellors see that a longer, one-on-one counselling arrangement would best suit a student.


Counselling takes place via a secure end-to-end encrypted video chatroom. An option exists for students to engage in text-based counselling.


Please contact me for rates, using the contact page on this site.

Scott Langston, MA, Dip.Coun.
www.expatcounsellingnow.com


Online counselling


What the research says:


There is a growing bank of research looking at the effectiveness of online counselling, particularly in the education sector. Alleman (2002) concludes that, whilst regulatory concerns certainly exist and ethics requirements will be paramount, “therapy can be done online, that it can be done ethically, and … online services might not be a serious threat to face-to-face therapy.”
Chardon, Bagraith & King (2011) suggest that there is evidence that online counselling might dive less deeply into action planning and goal exploration for clients – however, there is no suggestion that this must be the case. As online counselling develops, so too do the skills of the practitioners. Particularly for a counsellor operating within the parameters of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, there is no reason for the interaction to be any less deep or meaningful. Indeed research is showing that teenagers in particular are more, not less, likely to engage in counselling online. Lunt (2004), in the relatively early days of online interactions, identified what would come as no surprise to most working school counsellors: students expressed an unwillingness to engage with their school counsellor, perceiving them to have too close a relationship to other teachers and possibly to their parents. They were more likely to pursue online counselling disconnected from their school. They also reacted positively to counselling out of the normal hours of the school day, citing the relaxed home environment, greater nexus of control and lack of stigma when peers are unaware of the counselling.


Another research paper, from Glasheen, Shochet & Campbell (2016), concludes that “students experiencing psychological distress had a preference for online counselling. If students did use online counselling it was more likely they would discuss sensitive topics rather than for career issues.” These finding are not surprising and schools would do well to consider the addition of an online element to particularly their pastoral counselling services. In many schools the school counsellor has a large case-load of students, and academic counselling takes precedence. It can be difficult to commit to a longer-term counselling arrangement, nor is that always appropriate in a school setting. Having a reliable online referral outlet would be a valuable tool in a school’s well-being toolkit, particularly for those International Schools in locations where local services might be poor, non-existent, or simply not available in English. Glasheen et al. (2016) conclude that “online counselling provides a less threatening way of approaching help” and that “online counselling may assist some of those students who have, up until now, been reticent to access the services of the school counsellor.” In an earlier paper, Glasheen et al. reported that most school counsellors were conditionally in favour of offering online counselling in a school setting and were open to pursuing further training to enable them to provide online counselling effectively (Glasheen, Shochet & Campbell 2013).


In a separate qualitative study into adolescents’ motives for choosing online counselling, King, R., Bambling, M., Lloyd, C., Gomurra, R., Smith, S., Reid, W. & Wegner, K. (2006), revealed “that factors such as privacy and lack of emotional exposure attracted adolescents to online environment.” The report also concluded that web-based counselling services would become an increasingly important part of student well-being services.


My own experience as a counsellor suggests that students are reluctant to miss lessons during the school day to see a counsellor, are reluctant to have their peers aware that they are seeing a counsellor, are reluctant to open up to a counsellor they perceive as a friend or colleague of their regular teachers and are reluctant to discuss personal issues with a counsellor who they see as one face of the school and who may have interactions with their parents. Whilst ethical concerns, particularly with regard to confidentiality, need addressing clearly and upfront with students and families, I have every confidence in the online model supplementing what schools are currently able to offer.


Online counselling can often be the bridge, or stepping stone, towards face-to-face counselling. Certainly the initial contact through texting can build student confidence fairly quickly, to a point where the video chat feature becomes less threatening. By extension, it is then more likely that the student will engage with more traditional direct face-to-face counselling when required.


References
Alleman, J. R., (2002) Online counseling: The Internet and mental health treatment. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, Vol 39(2), Sum 2002, 199-209
Chardon, L., Bagraith, K. S. & King, R. J. (2011) Counseling activity in single-session online counseling with adolescents: An adherence study, Psychotherapy Research, 21:5, 583-592,  DOI: 10.1080/10503307.2011.592550
Glasheen, K.J., Shochet, I & Campbell, M.A. (2014) Opportunities and Challenges: School Guidance Counsellors’ Perceptions of Counselling Students Online Journal of Psychologists and Counsellors in Schools Volume 23 Issue 2 https://doi.org/10.1017/jgc.2013.15
Glasheen, K.J., Shochet, I & Campbell, M.A. (2016) Online counselling in secondary schools: would students seek help by this medium?, British Journal of Guidance & Counselling,  (44:1), 108-122, DOI: 10.1080/03069885.2015.1017805
King, R., Bambling, M., Lloyd, C., Gomurra, R., Smith, S., Reid, W. & Wegner, K. (2006) Online counselling: The motives and experiences of young people who choose the Internet instead of face to face or telephone counselling Counselling and Psychotherapy Research, September 2006; 6(3): 169174 https://doi.org/10.1080/14733140600848179
Lunt, P.T. (2004) Adolescents’ Willingness to Utilize Online Counseling Virginia Tech. (2004) Retrieved from: http://hdl.handle.net/10919/26643

Mindfulness With Children

My ‘Mindfulness with Children’ course is available on Insight Timer. It’s aimed at both parents and professionals working with kids.

You can access the course here. http://insig.ht/course_scott-langston

The power of gratitude

Gratitude, or being thankful, seems to have become a wellbeing buzzword. Searching the terms will find thousands of articles like this one, championing the real power that gratitude can have in your day-to-day wellbeing.

You’d be forgiven for being skeptical.

But here’s the thing. As a society, we used to practice gratitude in a big way. And as an increasingly secular society we still can, and perhaps should.

Throughout much of our history, we’ve been religious beings, with a capital R. Motivations have evolved over time, but essentially this was in response to a threatening world and ignorance of natural processes. Scared of the storm? Take solace in the all-powerful entity to protect you. And when you have survived, thank him (it’s usually him, isn’t it?) Even at its most banal, the brief ‘Thank you Lord for the food we are about it eat’ is an expression of gratitude and thanks.

But it’s thanks to something exterior. Gratitude expressed to another. An acknowledgement that the locus of control is outside of us, in the hands of the other.

There’s another way.

We can simply be thankful. Literally, full of thanks. We can be grateful. Full of gratitude. The Latin roots of the word can be expressed as having appreciation and expressing thankfulness. And whilst we tend to associate that with the other, having done something for us, we can just sit with the feeling of gratitude in quietude and simply be. You can be grateful for a sunny day, a meal, being free from pain – the list is endless. It is a way of recognising the good, and celebrating it.

You can try a simple and free gratitude mediation here.

If you would like to know more about the fascinating scientific research behind gratitude, you can begin here.

One increasingly popular way of focusing on gratitude daily, and expressing it, is to keep a gratitude journal. Find 3 things a day for which you are grateful. There are numerous examples online to guide you in this process. Writing them done strengthens their influence and solidifies the positive effects of expressing gratitude. (Emmons & McCullough, 2003).

Here are some interesting links to explore this further:

Gratitude meditation

How to start a gratitude practice

The power of gratitude

Thanks for reading.

Now, more than ever

and not just for kids.. Leave Your Worries Behind You

Are you suffering from mild to moderate anxiety, stress, or depression?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can help. It can be an ideal fit if you’re looking for an alternative to traditional telephone or face-to-face counselling. It can address issues such as:

  • Self-esteem and thinking styles
  • Low mood and depression
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Coping and resilience

Get in touch through the CONTACT page, and we can work together to help you through this difficult period.

Wisdom about the journey

So my friend and guitar teacher (the man has the patience of a saint) has just released a new album, on vinyl. It’s called “Looking for a place to call home‘, which is, of course, what a lot of expats are, possibly subconsciously, doing.

I think his short video about the album says it all. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy the journey. (His music is pretty good too… David McGreggor )

Here’s his short video:

The new normal?

We may not know when, or how, but we do know that life will eventually return to normal. This doesn’t necessarily mean that things will continue as before, but routines will establish themselves, economies will recover and kids will go back to school, in some form or other. There will be a new ‘normal’.

This episode will never be forgotten, nor should it be. As with any trauma – and yes, this is a traumatic experience – people tend to rise to the occasion and ‘bear it out’. As with any trauma, the long-terms effects may well surface once the initial period of difficulty has passed.

With children returning to school, it is going to be vitally important that they get emotional support as they reflect on and assimilate this experience. Many schools have Counsellors, but some do not. Many School Counsellors have duties including timetabling, careers advice, curriculum delivery and day-to-day ‘putting out fires’ as incidents crop up in school. For students requiring a systematic, multi-session support programme, most school counsellors are simply unable to provide the support required.

With the rapid growth of online services precipitated by this crisis, there is a growing awareness that online support can work. It isn’t just a stop-gap whilst we are confined to our homes. It is something that can continue, not to replace what schools currently offer, but to complement it.

For more details about the support on offer from ExpatCounsellingNow for returning students, see here.

So you’re spending a lot more time with your teens?

We know that conversation is important, and sometimes it’s hard to find the time and the place. Mealtimes work, if that’s a thing in your home. Car drives work well too, but not so much under present conditions. So does walking the dog and washing up together (or loading the dishwasher!)… A calm bedtime might the perfect time for you and your teen. Once you’ve found whatever works for you, what to talk about? Here’s a list of 15 questions which might lead to valuable, constructive conversation. They come from a 2018 article on the LifeHack website: for the full article, click on the heading below.

15 Questions To Ask Your Kids To Help Them Have Good Mindsets

1. What five words do you think best describe you?

2. What do you love doing that makes you feel happiest?

3. What do you know how to do that you can teach others?

4. What is the most wonderful/worst thing that ever happened to you?

5. What did you learn from the best/worst thing that’s happened to you?

6. Of all the things you are learning, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?

7. If you could travel back in time three years and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?

8. What are you most grateful for?

9. What do you think that person feels?

10. What do you think your life will be like in the future?

11. Which of your friends do you think I’d like the most? Why?

12. If you could grow up to be famous, what would you want to be famous for?

13. How would you change the world if you could?

14. How can you help someone today?

15. If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what rule would you make? Why?

Self-help – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

MBSR is a thing. And has been for a long time. But today, it is perhaps a ‘thing’ that you could turn to if isolation is stressful for you and you’d like to figure out how to be more at ease with this new paradigm.

“Mindfulness is about being fully awake in our lives. It is about perceiving the exquisite vividness of each moment.”    – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Palouse Mindfulness is offering a FREE 8 week MSBR course online. I’ve paid for similar courses in the past, so this is an absolute bargain. Find more about it HERE. It is completely free and can even be done anonymously (though I’m not sure why anyone would want to….).

As a response to the crisis, you may have seen on this site that I will offer consultations for free. If you need to talk about your situation, please do get in touch.

. And remember, reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness. Suffering in stoic silence is never the best option.

Need to talk to someone?

So you have to isolate physically. You don’t have to isolate socially and emotionally. In fact, you shouldn’t.


This is from the HeySigmund! website:


Yes, we need to physically isolate ourselves, but let’s not isolate ourselves socially or emotionally. We need each other more than ever – not only to get to the other side of this on a global scale, but individually. Let’s be more like the people we need to be, and the people we were called to be. Let’s leave judgement and comparison and righteousness well behind. They have nothing for us anyway. They never did. And let’s replace them with radical kindness, compassion, and open-heartedness. Let’s do that.

In this time when we are keeping our physical distance, don’t underestimate what the little things might mean to the ones in your life who might be missing you, or who might be feeling more separate from the world, or maybe more anxious than usual – phone calls, messages, video chats, social media tags with ‘this reminded me of you’ in the message. Let’s not take the little things for granted. They matter. As it turns out, the little things will be the big things that will get us through this.


On this site you’ll find information for regular counselling, if that is what you require.
However, if you are finding yourself overly anxious, panicked or simply need someone to talk to in order to feel heard, to vent, or to get some perspective on your situation, you thoughts, your feelings, please do get in touch. I’m home (obviously!) and at a computer most of the time. I can use Skype confidential or Whereby (see here) and will happily give you twenty minutes or so. For free. No obligations or expectations. There’s only one of me, so it’ll be first come first served… Please use the contact page here or if you have my other contact info through work or personal networks, feel free to use those.


I am on Central European Time (CET), currently GMT +1, so do bear that in mind.

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