I begin my day at 7:45am, sitting at my desk with a large tea and bagel in hand. I check email, get my First Chat profile up and running, open up all the documentation I will need, and make myself ready to accept the first clinical consult of the day. It is now 8 AM, and I am ready to tackle the day head-on!
Chat, you say? Chat, I say! I am a First Chat clinical counsellor for Shepell•fgi. By “chatting” I mean online instant messaging using secure encrypted chatting software that allows clients from all over the country to access services 24 hours a day. First Chat offers clients a solution-focused clinical consultation through which they can confidentially address their issues, be they financial concerns, relationship issues, or anything in between, under the guidance of a trained clinical counsellor. First Chat is also a wonderful gateway through which clients can be connected to more specialized Shepell•fgi resources or other referrals as appropriate.
I need to be open-minded, flexible and well-versed in netiquette and internet jargon. I am challenged on a daily basis to deliver the best counselling possible because we all know that one wrong word can result in the client taking offence where none was meant. I have always been a stronger writer than speaker, and it pleases me to know I am providing writing support to those who also feel more comfortable in the virtual world. Clients tend to get to the point more quickly, speak their minds without fear of judgement, and will share things they would not normally share because chatting gives the impression of intimacy without having to look someone in the eye while bearing your soul to a complete stranger.
This article first appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.
Click here to read the entire PDF version of the A Day in the Life of an Online Therapist article.
Stephanie Torino, MA Counselling Psychology
First Chat Supervisor and Client Care Counsellor for Shepell•fgi
For Stephanie’s full biography, please see our feature “First Chat: Attracting New EAP Users through Online Text-Based Chat Services”
Access TILT Magazine archives: http://issuu.com/onlinetherapyinstitute/docs