Telehealth services, driven by the pandemic, has certainly expanded to extraordinary levels, with more and more counselors using technology to connect with clients, mentors and colleagues. Colleges, universities, and other institutions with counselors on staff have stepped up in many instances and provided extensive training in the use of technology like Zoom and Blackboard’s ‘Collaborate Ultra’. In turn, large numbers of counselors and other professionals have embraced the technology change and have completed training in order to effectively use Telehealth resources. To be frank, having been one of the ‘tech’ guys wherever I worked, I am truly astonished by the number of professionals who have recently completed training in and are affectively employing virtual meeting apps like the aforementioned, especially Zoom. To those who have complete such trainings, congratulations on investing your time. I believe you will quickly see it was well spent time and the Telehealth programming is a true asset. Now… keep learning.
When a new technology becomes popular and addresses a critical need, professionals from all industries often struggle to learn the new technologies, which delays the implementation of said technologies. Regarding Telehealth resources, such delays mean our clients, patients, and/or students will wait longer for counseling support services. As I said, I have been surprised by the number of professionals who have so quickly jumped onboard with regards to Telehealth tools. My concern is what generally happens next. First, there is a crisis, then a technology surfaces to effectively mitigate such crisis, and finally, people accept a new normal. The problem usually is the time it takes to learn new technologies often takes a considerable amount of time, often weeks if not months to learn to how the new technology works. There are many who stay up to date on technological advances. For us, when a crisis arises, learning a new technology and how to employ it takes as little as an hour to become proficient. For counselors and professionals at all levels, take this moment to change your approach to technology. Learn and master Telehealth programming. Then, when your college or institution offers trainings in new programs or programming updates, attend those trainings. Invest time in staying current in new technology to lessen the likelihood that the next crisis will lead to delays in providing counseling services.
Neil O’Donnell is a Senior EOP Counselor at Buffalo State College where he provides personal, academic and career counseling for students during and after their undergraduate journey. Neil also devotes time to educating communities about Obsessive-compulsive Disorder through discussion of his own battle with OCD. Additionally, Neil is an author of books including "The Career-Minded Student" and "Bellwood, OCD and Me". You can find more of his career and stress management advisement at http://eopcenter.blogspot.com