What is Blended Counseling? How-To Guide for Counselors

Blended Counseling Software

In a world that is becoming more and more digital every day, services are following suit. But not everything can be moved online yet, not everyone wants to receive services that are fully online.

This is where “blended” services like blended counseling come in.

Before you dive in, we recommend you try our blended counseling software with Quenza’s $1 trial, for a month of unlimited access.

Quenza’s customizable, easy-to-use blended counseling software will help you create unique digital e-therapy solutions for your clients, and give you everything you need to run your online practice.

What is Blended Counseling?

When you see a service—like coaching, counseling, or therapy—referred to as “blended”, it generally means that it is offered in a mixed format, a blend of in-person and online.

So blended counseling is counseling that happens both in-person in a physically shared space and remotely via some type of communication technology (e.g., email, video chat, counseling software).

Although blended counseling is relatively new in the world of psychology, it already has the backing of several studies.

Blended counseling enjoys the advantages of both formats, allowing the counselor and client to connect in person (with all that goes along with that, including body language, sharing physical resources, using in-person-only techniques) but also to harness the power of online counseling (e.g., being able to share resources instantly, the ability to communicate from great distances, cutting down on travel time).

Although blended counseling is relatively new in the world of psychology, it already has the backing of several studies.

So far, it looks like this format can be just as effective as fully in-person counseling, but with the added benefits of online counseling.[1][2]

If you’re a counselor who provides your services in-person but you’re looking to shift into blended counseling, you’ve come to the right place.

This piece will outline what blended counseling might look like for you and provide tips, techniques, and tools that can help.

How to Perform Blended Counseling

There are many different ways to do blended counseling; you can meet in person regularly or only occasionally, you can have sessions both in-person and online, and you can share as much or as little content as you want digitally.

Quenza Blended Counseling Intake
Blended counseling can include online delivery of only a few interventions, or it can involve sharing all your resources digitally using blended counseling software like Quenza (pictured).

You can connect with your clients via telephone calls, video chats on a tablet, an instant messaging service, or even software that offers multiple ways to communicate and share resources.

Many counselors prefer to meet in person for the initial intake session, and to move to video chats for future sessions. Others might like to meet in person again for specific techniques, especially if they are body-focused (like somatic experiencing) or easier to do in person (like eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)).

The great thing about blended counseling is that the mix of in-person and online sessions, communicating, and information sharing is entirely up to you and your client. You can have a specific schedule of sessions that works best for you, you can customize your treatment and session plan for each client, or you can create different pathways for care depending on your clients’ needs.

Blended counseling gives you the benefit of high flexibility, so take advantage of it by figuring out what works best for you and your practice.

10 Tips for Online Counselors

Although moving things online has tons of benefits, it can also introduce some new challenges. It can feel uncomfortable to move things online when you’re used to in-person counseling—for both the counselor and the client.

Here are some tips to help you navigate the transition from fully in-person sessions to either partially or fully online sessions:

  1. First, make sure you are using a HIPAA-compliant platform for hosting online sessions. Not all platforms are created equal, so do your homework to ensure whichever one you choose will keep you and your client’s sessions private and secure.
  2. Look into licensing requirements—both in your state, territory, or country and wherever your client lives; they may differ, and you may need to comply with both!
  3. Test your internet connection and make sure you have a reliable internet service provider.
  4. Create a safe, quiet, and private space to conduct your counseling sessions in; you don’t want you or your client to be interrupted by pets, family members, or a knock on the front door.
  5. Turn off your notifications during sessions (including on your laptop, tablet, phone, and/or any other device you use for your sessions). Don’t just put them on silent, turn them off entirely so you can stay focused on your session.
  6. Set up a thoughtful and professional background to give your clients the feel of a typical counseling office setting.
  7. Remember to make thoughtful eye contact by looking in your camera lens, not just at your client where they appear on the screen.
  8. Set up your spot in the “medium-zone”, not too close but not too far from the camera.
  9. Make sure you’re in a comfortable position that you can stay in for the entire session. Try to minimize shifting and fidgeting during sessions, as it may seem like you’re not fully engaged with your client.
  10. Ease into it! If you’re feeling unsure or awkward about it, consider embracing authenticity and sharing that with your clients. Remember to give yourself a break as you make the transition, too.[3]

It can seem daunting to move from in-person sessions to online sessions, but you’ll get the hang of it in no time!

However, there is another very important factor that helps determine the success of your online sessions: the software you choose to facilitate your blended counseling.

Best Software for Online Counseling

There are many options for online counseling out there, and there are more being created all the time.

Some software options are simple and straightforward, only offering one or two features but excelling at those offerings. Others might offer a wide range of features, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

Depending on your unique needs, you may want to choose one “do it all” software or select a few different tools to create the right blended practice for you.

Quenza Blended Counseling Software
Quenza’s all-in-one blended counseling app helps you build and share e-therapy solutions while running your digital practice from anywhere.

If you decide to use several different tools, a word of advice: make sure they all work well together. It can be an unfortunate distraction from doing the real counseling work if you have to take steps manually that could happen automatically.

For example, if you go with one software for videoconferencing but it doesn’t sync with the tool you use to schedule appointments, you’ll need to manually add or send the right link every time instead of scheduling and starting sessions with the click of a button.

Most counselors will find that choosing only one or two software options that work well together is ideal. If the simplicity sounds good to you, you need to check out Quenza.

How To Use Quenza for Blended Counselors

Quenza is a digital platform for providing counseling, therapy, and coaching services that checks all the boxes. Whatever kinds of activities or techniques you use with your clients, Quenza can help you move your practice online and streamline the process.

With this platform, you can easily create client profiles, take private notes on your sessions, collect feedback from your clients, and share tools from a carefully curated library of resources and activities based on your client’s needs.

You can also use this platform to track and monitor your client’s progress, keeping up to date with the activities they’ve completed and reviewing the results of their assessments.

If you’re concerned about staying in touch with your clients outside of sessions and keeping them on track, the Quenza client app has you covered; it will send them push notifications and reminders to make sure they stick to the schedule, and it will do it in whatever language is easiest for them (the app supports 16 languages so far).

And don’t worry about the safety of the data you collect, because the platform is HIPAA-compliant and totally secure. You can rest easy knowing your clients’ personal information is safe.

2 Unique Features & Tools in Quenza

Quenza provides many of the same tools you can find in other counseling platforms (like messaging and other communication options), but the tools that make this a unique and extra valuable platform are the activity builder and the ability to create pathways:

  1. The Activity Builder: this tool allows you to create fully customizable resources that you can save in your library and quickly and easily send to your clients. Whether you want to create assignments, lessons, information-sharing resources, worksheets, or assessments, the activity builder allows you to design your own from scratch or choose one of the many options available in the expansion library. This feature makes it a snap to create or customize the tools you need to provide high-quality counseling to your clients.
  2. The Pathway Builder: once you have a solid set of activities and resources created and stored in your personal library, you can design custom pathways that meet your clients’ needs. These pathways can be created with particular groups of clients in mind (e.g., separate pathways depending on age group and/or gender), specific challenges or needs (e.g., pathways for marital counseling vs. counseling for symptoms of depression), or types of treatment (e.g., separate pathways for different types of therapy, like CBT or SFT).
Pathways Quenza Blended Counseling
Activities that you create in Quenza can be organized into counseling programs or care pathways with user-friendly Pathway Tools.

Although Quenza has a ton of helpful features, your Activity Builder and Pathway Tools are the most unique; they also offer unparalleled flexibility to create and offer your own custom brand of counseling to your clients.

Final Thoughts

It can be tough to transition from fully in-person to blended counseling, but luckily there are many therapy tools available to help you navigate it.

Keep the tips from this piece in mind as you move to blended care, and remember to check back here for more helpful tips, techniques, and resources. Happy counseling!

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article. To turn these tips into powerful blended counseling solutions and pathways, don’t forget to start your $1 of Quenza’s therapy tools.

Our blended counseling software will give you all the tools and features you need to share powerful, digital counseling solutions easily, so that you can enhance the wellbeing of your clients even more effectively.

References

  1. ^ Fitzpatrick, M., Nedeljkovic, M., Abbott, J., Kyrios, M., & Moulding, R. (2018). “Blended” therapy: The development and pilot evaluation of an internet-facilitated cognitive behavioral intervention to supplement face-to-face therapy for hoarding disorder. Internet Interventions, 21(12), 16-25.
  2. ^ Lungu, A., Jun, J. J., Azarmanesh, O., Leykin, Y., & Chen, C. E. (2020). Blended care-cognitive behavioral therapy for depression and anxiety in real-world settings: Pragmatic retrospective study. Journal of Medical Internet Research, 22(7), e18723.
  3. ^ Harron, D. (2020, April 9). Online therapy tips for therapists providing telehealth services. Monarch Wellness & Psychotherapy. Retrieved from https://monarchwellness.com/online-therapy-telehealth-tips-therapists/

About the author

Courtney is currently working as a healthcare workforce researcher for the state of California and is a regular contributor to the Quenza blog. She has a passion for taking research findings and translating them into concise, actionable packages of information that anyone can understand and implement.

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