Virtual counselling creates space for person-centred care

October 14, 2021

Brittany Willment remembers feeling apprehensive the first time she used the online tool called Kelty’s Key with one of her clients.
 
“I thought, ‘Would I be able to provide therapy in a useful way? What if my email doesn’t work? How do I do this?' ” recalls the counsellor from Penticton's mental health and substance use community counselling team.
 
Today, however, Brittany says she has no doubt that the virtual counselling tool is useful and appreciated by clients. It's increasing access to needed therapies for mental health and substance use disorders in a way that's flexible, effective, and person-centred.
 
“Some of the feedback I’ve received is appreciation for an email option, because without it clients wouldn’t be able to participate in therapy due to family obligations or work schedules,” she says. “Another person shared that they have found benefit in the process of writing and reflecting between sessions rather than using a Zoom (videoconference) or phone format, and that the material has been so helpful they have shared the modules with others.”
 
With an increasing focus on virtual care options, online therapy is a new and effective tool that clinicians can offer to people with mental health and substance use disorders. Clients can access resources, helpful exercises and their counsellor’s words and encouragement from the comfort of home. Interior Health's Community Mental Health & Substance Use services offers online counselling in most communities, expanding to include people who cannot physically come to an office because of work schedules, child care, transportation, or due to anxiety or depression. 

Online therapy uses a model called “Therapist Assisted Internet Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT),” which is an evidence-based model that has been shown to be as effective as in-person CBT. A counsellor connects with a person through secure email, and uses treatment modules that are part of the Kelty’s Key website such as substance use, depression, anxiety and more. Kelty’s Key is a secure online tool that uses a digital platform and encrypted emails as part of the mental health and substance use continuum of services. Clients can work independently or with an online counsellor. Clinicians are supported with training and a Community of Practice.
 
The treatment modules were created by a team of clinical Psychologists at Vancouver Coastal Health, and the website was funded by the Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation.
 
Within Interior Health there are now more than 100 clinicians trained to use Kelty’s Key. This number continues to grow as the demand for virtual care increases.

“Once I was comfortable using it, I found this to be a tool I use and present to clients often as a choice in therapy. The website is a great resource and is easily accessible by clients between appointments. Through the process of learning, the Kelty’s Key Community of Practice has been super helpful in learning and troubleshooting a brand new way (to me) of providing CBT therapy,” says Brittany.
 
Visit Kelty’s Key to learn more, or contact your local MHSU centre by dialing 310-MHSU.
 
 

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