ExpatCounsellingNow

Counselling for Expats

Category: Uncategorized

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

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:

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.

Good news, bad news

It turns out, too much news.

Whether you are stressed about the coronavirus or bereaving Brexit, being abroad can have a magnifying effect on the news we receive, and our 24/7 connectivity doesn’t help. We hear the same story a hundred times and it amplifies our fears and concerns.

From an evolutionary biological perspective, it is no wonder this has a negative and stressful effect on us. In the blink of an eye (in evolutionary terms) we have gone from living in societies of about 100 people, with our news being word-of-mouth and almost always of personal concern, to existing in a globally connected society approaching 8 billion, with news coming at us from every direction, mostly about things thousands of kilometres from us and which we can have no influence over. Our brains simply did not evolve to comprehend this constant barrage and enormity of information.

So practice a little self-care. Turn off the news for a while. Prune out the negativity from your social media feeds. Take time to breath and to take stock of what really affects you and the things you do have some control over.

And let go of the things you can do nothing about.

Home for Christmas?

Going ‘home’ for Christmas as an expat can be a thrilling and daunting experience. It’s a rush of catching up, rose-tinted views of life ‘back home’, extended family and the ever-present dilemma of how much to share about your life in distant climes…

Heading home can indeed be wonderful. Family and friends, cosy chats, familiarity and festivity. On the other hand it can be very hard work too. Jet-lag, living out of a suitcase, trying to spread your finite time between everyone you want to see and everything you want to do. And presents? Last minute shopping locally, or pay the excess baggage and risk presents in your suitcase? And if you have kids in tow, do relatives ever listen when you politely ask them NOT to get massive, heavy gifts for the children?

On the other hand, staying in your country of residence for the festive break also has pros and cons. The joy of no international travel. A home you are familiar with, an equipped kitchen to cook and you get to enjoy the tree you probably put up on December 1st, instead of rushing off and leaving it behind. And missing family and friends, and vowing that next year we’ll go ‘home’…

However you’ll be spending the holidays, there are a couple of things that are important.

Whilst I virtually never heed my own advice here, and whilst it does sound corny, Christmas should be about the presence, not the presents…especially if you’ve just flown halfway around the world, its about being with those who are special to you, not about what you bought for them. (Otherwise we’d just use Amazon and stay put, right?)

Traditions matter. Whether it’s the homemade Advent calendar, that cake recipe or a film you simply have to watch together, try to maintain traditions, or build new ones. Especially if you are with your children, they will remember a Christmas tradition in years to come, though they’ll struggle to recall that present they REALLY wanted.

And above all, remember to be gentle with yourself. You may be frazzled, exhausted, trying to please everyone and feeling guilty all at the same time. Take time for you, as well.

Social Media

It can make expat life that bit easier. Staying in contact with friends back home – especially for kids – can be crucial to allowing themselves to settle to a new home. I heard a story – which I suspect might not be true – which made me stop and think. The story goes that Einstein’s daughter was moving to Europe to work and he was lamenting her departure. A friend said, ‘Hey, don’t worry. There’s the telephone now – you’ll be able to talk to her.’ He reportedly replied, ‘If it weren’t for the telephone, she wouldn’t be going.’

I suspect that’s true of email and Facebook and Instagram and Skype for many of us on the expat circuit. Social media allows us to think we’re staying in touch, staying connected. It may have been a deciding factor in your move. But it comes with risks for all of us, and children in particular…

“We know that a significant amount of children are being contacted via popular live-streaming apps, such as TikTok, by abusers who are using them as a hunting ground,” a spokesperson for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) said this weekend.

The NSPCC said it surveyed 40,000 schoolchildren and discovered that 25 percent of the children had live-streamed with a stranger. One in 20 children were asked, while live-streaming or in the comments of a posted video, to take their clothes off, according to NSPCC. 

TikTok, livestreaming apps are ‘hunting ground’ for abusers, warn kids’ advocates

And also..

Why Teenage Girls Roll Their Eyes

Insights on Teenage Behavior

            In this Edutopia article, Stephen Merrill says that recent research has given us important new information on the adolescent brain. 

            • The limbic system (the seat of primal instincts like fear, hunger, lust, and pleasure) is hyperactive during adolescence, while the prefrontal cortex (the seat of self-control, planning, and self-awareness) is still developing. “It’s not youthful irrationality or a flair for the dramatic at work,” says Merrill; “teenagers actually experience things like music, drugs, and the thrill of speed more powerfully than adults do.” 

            • The brain’s neuroplasticity at this stage of life makes kids sponges for learning. “The same emerging circuitry that makes teenagers vulnerable to risky behavior and mood swings also confers significant advantages on adolescent learners,” says Merrill. 

            • Being with peers increases risk-taking, most dangerously with automobiles and alcohol consumption. “It’s never been a question of feeling invulnerable,” says Merrill; “for teenagers, there’s just something about the presence of peers that is transfiguring. They understand the risks, and take them anyway.” 

            • Kids at this age respond well to direct explanations. “Talking to teenagers frankly about their brain development can provide useful context for their emotional worlds,” says Merrill, “and reset their expectations about their potential for continued intellectual growth.” This includes explaining the limbic system, the malleability of their brains, and the peer effect. 

            • Similarly, teens are receptive to learning about self-regulation, managing stress, and considering the feelings of others. Instruction in these areas is more effective than trying to scare kids about risky behaviors. 

            • Peer culture and teens’ keen sense of fairness and justice can be powerful levers. Preaching about smoking’s health consequences is usually ineffective, but talking about bad breath, peer disapproval, impact on younger children, and the way the tobacco industry hooks and exploits people can change teens’ attitudes and behavior. 

“Decoding the Teenage Brain (in 3 Charts)” by Stephen Merrill in Edutopia, January 31, 2019

Taken directly from The Marshall Memo 774