This interview with Barbara Freedman is one in a series of interviews with LivePerson's Professional Counselors.
First, tell us a bit about your background and experience in grief counseling. Also share how long you have been counseling with folks through LivePerson and a bit about what the experience is been like for you?
As a Mental Health Worker; Member of (OACCPP -Ontario Association of Consultants, Counselors, Psychometrists, & Psychotherapists) I have devoted myself to counseling and healing, mainly in the areas of crisis intervention, complicated grief and trauma.
I offer a Master in Education along with over 25 years of experience in both in Education and Social Services fields, 4 of which have spend counseling through Live Person.
Live Person has been a wonderful experience which has afforded me the opportunity to sharpen my counseling skills, as well as allow me to contribute to enhancing the already more conventional existing mental health services. I feel that reaching out and accommodating as many clients as possible, who need our help should be our ultimate goal as therapist, and the more options and resources available to us at our disposal to help us do so, the better. The online world permits more possibilities for this new, highly diverse, and ever-changing multicultural cyber generation.
What is your approach to counseling with those in grief?
I use mainly a Humanistic-Experiential approach as clients must feel and work through their grief. Existential therapy encourages clients to find meaning in their suffering, in addition to honoring their deceased loved ones memory by living life to its fullest.
I am trained and experienced in crisis intervention for those who are in crisis, due to a complicated bereavement. For more ongoing, longer term therapy with clients, I draw on such approaches as Object Relations Therapy & Self Psychology, particularly when I feel that the clients grieving process seems to draw on earlier unresolved feelings and experiences.
I often employ some Solution Focused and/or Behavioral Therapy in term of teaching parents and care givers to help the child through their grieving process.
What do you see as some of the benefits of receiving counseling through Live Person?
Online counseling permits many individuals to have access to counseling, whereas they otherwise would have no way of receiving such services. This is due to cut backs in social services and the limited availability of clinicians for face-to-face treatment, combined with the difficulties associated with seeking treatment during working hours. There are also important implications for people in regional areas or who are otherwise socially isolated, as well as reaching out to all clients worldwide.
Many choose online counseling as a result of its accessibility in terms of other obstacles, such as having small children to care for. A disability which limits their mobility, or insufficient access to transportation may make seeing a counselor nearly impossible.
The convenience of online counseling and time-saving factors are added bonuses to its appeal. People with access to a computer can use this whenever they need to, without having to make an appointment or leave the house. Aside from being able to log in, anytime day or night, it is certainly easier to turn on the computer, than to get dressed and ready, drive into town to find the office and look for parking. Most online clients appreciate how relaxing and comfortable it is to enjoy counseling from their own home. The ease of obtaining this service from the seclusion of one’s house or office is very appealing. Online counseling offers a completely secure platform, providing a higher level of anonymity than traditional face-to-face counseling. Clients may opt for online counseling because they feel more comfortable with this approach. The client is never seen by the counselor, and is not required to give their name. Using either a nickname, screen or alias name is sufficient in this situation. Some people who are not at ease with face-to-face counseling, or may not be ready for this contact yet, may find these conditions less intimidating. As there is no direct eye contact involved this may also be a relief particularly those who are apprehensive with those in authority. Its advantages also hold true for those who are concerned with the stigma associated with seeing a face-to-face counseling, since there is no chance to run into a familiar face when meeting with your online counselor.
Overall without the option of online services, such challenges would discourage many from obtaining the help which they require and deserve.
What situations might a person find Live Person counseling less then helpful?
Those who are not ready to explore their grief may find any form of counseling less than helpful. Also we are unable to help resistant clients who are unwilling to acknowledge that they need assistance, or accept this help.
If the client is in danger of suicidal or homicidal behavior they would require immediate intervention in the community in which they reside. There are severe situations which must be approached first and monitored on a more directive face to face basis. Some examples of this would be detachment from reality due to a psychotic break, or dementias such as Alzheimer’s. Severe addictions or excessive use of alcohol or drugs would be cause for local hospitalization.
Lastly some people may just choose to see a counselor face to face as we all have individual differences and inclinations.
What strengths or special abilities do you offer as a professional counselor?
I am a trained facilitator for the SOS (Survivors of Suicide) in the community which I live, and have co-facilitated such groups. SOS refers to those who are grieving the loss of a loved one through suicide. This is a particularly special grieving process which I believe, requires specific training and experience.
As I am experienced in a lot of approaches this permits me to be creative and resourceful in tailoring my services according to each client’s individual needs and personal preferences. Aside from being eclectic and flexible in my approach, my own very personal experience with grief offers me a much more sensitive perspective on which to draw from.
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