Since many services have become fully remote, Ohio University’s Counseling and Psychological Services staff, both graduate students and full-time clinicians, have gone through numerous trainings for Telehealth certifications as they rise to the challenge of adapting services to help OHIO students in a time of duress.
Both clinicians and graduate students work closely with students at Counseling and Psychological Services. Graduate students, on top of their normal workload as a student, are working diligently to provide services for fellow Bobcats. They co-lead group therapy sessions and earn experiences toward potentially becoming clinicians in the future. The adaptability shown by OHIO’s graduate students and clinicians really shows how much they all value not only their work in the mental health field, but also the well-being of their students.
Becky Conrad Davenport, associate director/clinical director at Counseling and Psychological Services said, “In March 2020, when we realized we needed to adjust our service provision to an online format, we explored the training options and decided that all our staff would complete a 26 hour Telehealth certification course that included the following sections of training: Practical Applications for Delivering Psychotherapy and Counseling via Telehealth; The New Standard - Ethical, Legal, Clinical, Technological, and Practice Considerations for Telehealth Service Provision; Digital and Social Media Ethics for Psychotherapists: Clinical and Ethical Considerations.” Davenport also said, “It was incredibly helpful to go through such an intensive training to ready myself and our center to adjust all of our procedures and adapt our clinical work to the remote format. I have reflected with my peers, that it was as if we were opening a whole new counseling center as every procedure that we do, every task, was changed to adapt to our remote situation.”
CPS graduate students and clinicians had to be oriented to new procedures surrounding Telehealth. One small but important example of these new procedures is that at the start of each session, the counselor must verify a client’s identity, confirm that the client is in a private setting and confirm their location so that if there were some emergency, CPS would be able to help them get assistance.
“These are things for which we developed thoughtful and intentional procedures so that we can provide competent and ethical services that meet the standard of care,” Davenport said. The training CPS graduate students are receiving not what most of the staff planned or expected to be doing at this time but is unique and relevant experience for these students developing their careers.
Graduate students working at CPS have adapted to a different world of medicine in such a short period of time. Not only has it been a time of disconnect, but also social issues of inclusivity and violence upon groups of marginalized peoples, violence that is not necessarily new, but is more prevalent in mainstream media has impacted all individuals. Staff at CPS has been working tirelessly to create a safe and inclusive format for students to express and take care of themselves.
CPS staff have been working toward making a better, more inclusive environment for students since the beginning of March from “writing procedures, connecting all staff to the platforms they needed remotely, and spending extensive hours in phone consultations with students to continue the support and important mental health services they need.” said Davenport.
Davenport added in response to the needs of the community, “we have been reflective about the many other issues facing us during these unusual times [and] we have worked on diversity and inclusion efforts to support the community in reflecting on the impact of violence that has been focused on marginalized individuals, especially Black individuals.” Supporting all members of the Bobcat community “who have been marginalized as we continue to educate ourselves about the impact of implicit bias, racism and anti-Black policies” is a priority of CPS.
It is a challenging time for all individuals now, and it is imperative that despite the separation in space, we can still connect and support each other through the virtual environment, which is exactly what CPS is doing.
Davenport confirmed, “We are providing all the services we typically were, just in a remote format. We offer same-day drop-in consultation (via phone or video format), single sessions, group therapy, brief individual therapy, Coping Clinics, psychiatry consultation and referrals for additional services” CPS is following the best practices for care as they provide the same standard of care as before, just in a new way. All staff, clinicians and graduate students at CPS have been working diligently under new guidelines for the health and well-being of all those who use CPS services and for the entire OHIO community.