Counseling Services working on a plan to conduct virtual sessions and counseling over the phone as the university limits on-campus operations for the rest of the spring semester to promote social distancing.
Kodee Walls, assistant director and training director at Counseling Services, said they are not scheduling new intake for the next couple of weeks.
“There are people who were waiting for an appointment and we’re going to reach out to them,” she said.
Walls said Counseling Services is going to try to keep things as routine as possible. While the organization plans to focus on clients who already have an appointment scheduled, Walls said there are plans to contact waitlisted clients by March 25.
“One thing that we’re needing to prioritize is current clients that had appointments scheduled for this week and next week,” Walls said. “Also, we want to make sure that we’re practicing competently and ethically, that’s why we’re limiting to phone consultations and discussing options.”
Other workshops beyond individual sessions will continue virtually as well.
“We’re also going to offer some workshops via Zoom so that people can tune in and we’ll help answer questions, we’ll do some skill building stuff to help people manage any distress or anxiety they may be experiencing because the last thing we want is for people to feel like they’re trapped,” Walls said.
While she is not exactly sure when the sessions will start up, she said Counseling Services wants to start as soon as possible.
Walls said there is no evidence at this time that telehealth consultation is less effective than in-person, but that it is reasonable to assume it is going to feel different.
“It will 100 percent change the dynamic, even if we can do video conferencing, because so much of therapy is nuanced,” she said. “Especially over the phone, it’s really difficult to observe nonverbals, or shift in posture when you’re just talking to somebody over the phone.”
She said students and clients will need to make sure their spaces are private and confidential. For example, they shouldn’t be sitting at a coffee shop, gym or living room at a fraternity house during their sessions.
“It’s going to take a lot of collaboration between the therapist and the client or the student they’re talking to,” Walls said. “They have to ensure they’re doing that to protect themselves.”
Counseling Services is currently working on a method for students to make these appointments, Walls said. Their website will be updated with this information once it is all finalized.
“Please don’t feel like you can’t contact us,” she said. “We’re all doing our best and we want everybody to feel as taken care of as they possibly can.”
She said that, as of right now, they are limited to only practicing in Kansas, meaning that if a student had to go home to a different state, they can’t provide them services.
“As of right now, we are working on contacting the [licensing] board to see if they’ll do a temporary stay or reciprocity for a temporary amount of time, 90 days or so, so we can continue to provide services to our clients that we’ve been meeting with before,” Walls said.
Counseling Services is still running its normal break hours for phone calls, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., as well as their after hours operations.