This conference was held at Leicester University on April 25, 2009 and was attended by approximately 35 delegates, with a further 40 online delegates who attended at various points remotely via a live feed, including both video stream from the face-to-face conference and remote chatroom debate concurrently.
The event was opened by Gill Jones of ACTO and Counselling Online Ltd – co-hosts of the conference. An exciting and evolving programme emerged throughout the day, starting with a keynote from Jeannie Wright of New Zealand giving a remote presentation (pre-recorded) on “Only Connect”, covering some of the research linking expressive and reflective writing with online therapies. A representative of BACP brought along copies of the Guidelines for purchase (see http://www.bacp.co.uk/publications/NEW%20PUBLICATIONS/onlinecounselling.php).
A change of programme meant that Dr. Stephen Goss, co-author of the recently published 3rd Edition of the BACP Guidelines for Online Counselling and Psychotherapy, including Guidelines for Online Supervision (Anthony & Goss, 2009), stepped in at the last minute to explain the contents of the publication and the implications for the profession from a wider perspective regarding international ethical development of the field.
Due to further programme changes, the day evolved to include three workshops to run simultaneously – Anne Stokes on Online Supervision, Jane Evans on working online in HE and FE, and Gill Webb hosting a live online chat taster session.
Keynote speakers included Steph Palin covering the work of Relate with a live demonstration of how their chatroom support helps – a neat amalgamation of chat and website links within the same client screen. Joe Ferns talked delegates through the work of the Samaritans online, with some stunning statistics and illustration of the exchanges the organisation receives through mobile texting.
The keynote in the latter part of the afternoon hosted a video interview with Audrey Jung (Pres-Elect of ISMHO) by Kate Anthony (Past-President of ISMHO) as interviewer about the state of play in the US, before going live to New Jersey to chat with DeeAnna Merz Nagel (also Past-President of ISMHO) as commentator on the interview and to answer delegate questions.
The panel of speakers, led by Anne Stokes, then answered questions from the floor for 50 minutes.
Although this was a small conference on a specialist subject, it is a great step forward for the profession in linking with people all over the world in not only observing the face-to-face presentations but also contributing from the OCTIA chatroom. The chatroom, facilitated by the organisers, Kate Anthony and Stephen Goss – was projected onto the side wall of the conference suite so that the live chat and questions to the presenters emanating from it could be fed to the keynote speakers. Furthermore, the conference will, with the help of OnlineEvents.co.uk, be available for download from the OCTIA website – including the pre-conference interviews with Gill Jones, Kate Anthony, and DeeAnna Merz Nagel – watch http://www.octia.org.uk.
Kate Anthony, MSc, FBACP