For many if not most sexual violence counsellors, the COVID-19 pandemic required a shift in practice to distance counselling options. Within the span of weeks, the sector had to learn new ways of supporting survivors through the use of videoconferencing (ex. Zoom), telephone calls, and texting.
In the summer of 2021, the Ending Violence Association of Canada, Sexual Assault Centre Kingston (SACK), and Anova partnered to work on an initiative aimed at better understanding the impact of this shift to distance counselling. Was it better, worse, or different? Did it have specific impacts on different equity-seeking groups? What lessons have been learned that are specific to the sector, such as navigating safety planning and ensuring rapport-building?
Building on the work done through the Going-the-Distance project from SACK, the survey and final report sought to answer some of these questions and found that the massive challenges the sector faced were met with exceptional effort and innovation on the part of counsellors supporting survivors of sexual violence.
One of the clear outcomes that survey participants wanted was also a professional development learning session focused on how to effectively “do” distance counselling. As such, we have brought together a set of distance-specific, survivor-centred, trauma-informed, anti-oppressive, anti-racist therapeutic practices that promote: survivor safety, strong therapeutic alliance, technology applications, and improved access and inclusion. The free two-hour learning event titled “Promising Practices for Distance Counselling with Survivors of Sexual Violence” is on March 1, 2022 from 1-3pm EST. You can register for the event here.