Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Opening the black box that is text counselling

The 3 minute thesis has parallels to text counselling; i want to say more- I have to miss lots out, the constraints are huge, it makes me come to the point, it stops me going round in circles. And did you notice the staccato rhythm that evolved?
Ironically this matches what occurs in text counselling.
The medium we use shapes us.

The phones hardly ring anymore at YL; youth still have problems, and still seek help, but this happens silently.
So what happens when counselling moves into text spaces of mobile phones?
How are such spaces both shaped and shaping those involved?
This introduces a political agenda, seeing the things that make something happen provides opening for seeing that things could also be otherwise.
I Traced what’s involved that makes texting the first thing young people reach for when they reach out.
There’s seductive advertising. Bestmates are shown as unconditionally accessible and willing to be available, suggesting lonliness can be bypassed.
NZ is also in a pricing war making for cheap texts. But cheapness is only one factor; when it’s free to call YL, texting is still preferred.
So I looked at reasons young people and the environment that online spaces provide for them.
Texting provides Control: on talking about her dad who had died, one said: talking makes it too real, with texting I can take it slow.
I don't hear my own voice breaking
Another described how texting stopped her going round and round re-traumatising herself . The visual trace reminded her of ground already covered.
Texting provides Voice For example: txtn is ok because i cn keep goin evn if im crying.
Texting provides connection
If you've run away at night or
ur hiding under the house from your dad whose going to give u a beating, texting works.
‘its in ur pocket, its where u r’
Anywhere anytime also allows for keeping strategies and evidence of being connected in the world. I was shown a pocket full of Affirmations, texts not deleted even 6 months later, she said they felt good.
What’s important for counsellors is to see texting as a conversation and not an expectation to mend everything in one utterance
However, Receiving 18000 txts a month provides challenge in sustaining the threads of the conversation
Counselling is Reshaped some skills work in the medium, some don't.
Caution is heightened in a medium where digital traces feel ephemeral but are more solid than conversation or phone call.
Textual traces provide advantages as well as risks.
Privacy remains an area of ongoing tension.
Fewer cues requires caution.
Opening up text counselling allows us to see how practices are shaped, and might be shaped otherwise.
Currently There is no evidence base for text counselling, there never is for something new. This thesis is seen as providing insights into the practice of text-based counselling.
My hope and intention is that practice is shaped in listening primarily to the voices of young people.

Value of the 3 minute thesis is that it forces consideration for the 'so what' question. At the same time i found myself forced into overwriting what participants had said, so as to fit this medium. An actor network approach lets me explain so much more in taking littler steps but covering the distance. in contrast, this covers the distance but at a height where there is a loss of so much detail.
Where this has really been significant is in making me aware of the responsibility i have in writing of practice-
i hope i do it justice.


  1. 在莫非定律中有項笨蛋定律:「一個組織中的笨蛋,恆大於等於三分之二。」. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .