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Counselling and AAC
When we think about conventional mental health counselling, it consists of the counsellor and person speaking together. Responses to questions are considered and then answered; this is how counselling works in most cases.
But what about the cohort of people with CP who cannot communicate this way?
How can they access mental health counselling and gain similar benefits?
Assistive communication devices are not perfect; however, they play an essential role in everyday conversations for people who must use them. A problem is the potential time delay for the person using them to input the responses within counselling sessions.
It’s a question we have been asking ourselves since we started our counselling service.
We could not say sorry counselling won’t work for you; we had to find a solution.
The answer was not as complex as we first thought.
Most counselling sessions are 50 minutes long, so we have increased that to 90 minutes, which allows time for pause.
After each counselling session, we consider the questions we would like to ask in the next session. We then send them by email to the client, he or she can then input the answers into their machine ready for the session.
At the agreed time for the session to start the counsellor and client come together online. The counsellor then asks the questions again and the client responds.
As important as the verbal responses are visual communication and a sense that clarity is achieved between the counsellor and client.
We have been trialling this way of supporting our clients who use communication devices & it’s been well received so far.
It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s a start to enable counselling with DisabilityPlus.
Specialist Information Officer and Cerebral Palsy Programme Lead
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