How Hollyburn’s counsellors have answered the call to continue services for clients through the pandemic crisis.
It’s been a busy couple of months at Hollyburn Family Support Services. As the curtain fell on so many face-to-face services across the agency, our counsellors responded to the COVID-19 crisis by signing up for online counselling trainings. This has helped to expand their scope of practice into formats that include phone and video (internet) counselling.
We quickly recognized the need to do whatever we could to maintain services to our existing and prospective clients. We also realized that our team of counsellors were uniquely prepared to adapt to this brave new world of home-based online therapy. This is because nearly all of our team members have worked and trained extensively in home-based intensive outreach family therapy programs.
Beyond the Clinic
Most people think of counselling as a professional service provided in a clinic or office setting. For many of our current private family therapy clients, this was the norm. But our team of private family counsellors has developed out of our publicly-funded support, education, and counselling services that Hollyburn Family Services has provided, in-house and in the community, to families across the North Shore for nearly 20 years.
For years we’ve been training counsellors to think and work “beyond the clinic” by conducting education and support sessions in the family home. Our family preservation team is another source that we’ve recruited from to form our team. These counsellors are trained in trauma-informed approaches to work with families in crisis in their own home environment to address problems including addiction, mental illness, domestic violence, and other challenges that impact parenting and the continued nurturance of children.
When it comes to making house calls, our counselling team is more prepared than most to take on this challenge. The challenge of maintaining professionalism is one that Hollyburn’s counselling team is familiar with as we have always endeavoured to establish clear boundaries while working in the homes with our clients. This is essential to support positive outcomes and sustain progress.
Meeting Diverse Online Counselling Needs
Counsellors like Linda Wolfenden, Chris Burt, Maureen Chute, Akbar Safari and Tomi Hamner have all had years of front-line experience in providing outreach support and counselling services in client family homes. These programs also placed them with diverse client populations, including newcomer families (new immigrant families from Iran, the Philippines, China, and Japan) and indigenous families.
They have worked with families with non-neurotypical children and teens, helping parents adapt to their unique support needs, and navigate complex health care and education systems. This team is skilled at dealing with acute problems faced by families that include serious drug and alcohol addiction, and acute mental illness. They’ve all worked with families that have suffered the impacts of domestic and family violence. This includes work with many high-conflict couples.
Counsellors Homa Papaei and Mikah Turner-Alexander draw from work in specialized outreach victim support services and special needs residential services. This experience helped adapt their skills to ever-changing circumstances for individuals and families facing crisis and change.
Our counsellors are also experienced at integrating their counselling work with other professionals and practitioners in the community. This includes teachers, probation officers, psychiatrists, behavioural interventionists, drug and alcohol counsellors, community health nurses and many others.
In short, this team is well prepared to respond to the ever-changing needs of this community during the pandemic crisis.