Counseling Today, Online Exclusives

@TechCounselor: Counselors as innovators

By Adria S. Dunbar August 9, 2018

Have you ever been at work using a software system and thought to yourself, “It would be so nice if this software would let me do ___________”?

Maybe you wish collaborative comments were possible when a team of providers is involved in client care. Perhaps you’d like it if calendar reminders included a two-sentence summary of your last session so you could avoid opening a laptop between sessions. Maybe you’ve thought about how nice it would be if emails and faxes could be sent directly from the electronic health record you are using. Maybe you wish you could streamline aspects of your counseling practice or have more automated systems for tasks that are repetitive day after day. Perhaps you’d like to collect data from clients in a way that would help them reach their goals faster.

Stop for just a moment and think about your biggest frustrations (or pain points) at work. Are they universal issues that others in the counseling profession also experience? Could there be an innovative solution?

Typically, when counselors have a problem to solve or a thought to increase efficiency, we begin searching for innovative solutions that already exist — and hope that these solutions won’t be too expensive to adopt. Sometimes, we are even lucky enough to find a solution that mostly fits our needs as counselors. Although the innovation was actually created for health care professionals, the business world or other types of practitioners, we make due, find workarounds or settle for almost perfect. In some cases, finding and using these solutions seems to go well enough, but there also are many examples of ways in which borrowing technology from other fields falls short.

Now imagine what might be different if counselors and counselor educators were the innovators behind innovative technology solutions. How might software be different if it was created by a counselor? What are some counseling concepts that might find their way from our practice into the software we create? Mindfulness? Digital health? A strength-based focus? Wellness models?

How might the user experience be different? How might the content be more applicable to our work? How might our practice be improved through innovation that runs in the background and allows us to do the work we love instead of spending so much energy on the logistics of running a practice, providing supervision or training counselors?

As a counselor educator who values innovation and tech development, I spend a lot of time considering the ways in which our work could be improved if more counselors felt empowered to take their innovative ideas and turn them into something we could all use in our practices.

 

If you have examples of counselor-created software or other innovations that are working well for you, please contact me. I’d love to share them with readers here at CT Online.

 

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Adria S. Dunbar is an assistant professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. She has more than 15 years of experience with both efficient and inefficient technology in school settings, private practice and counselor education. Contact her at adria.dunbar@ncsu.edu.

 

@TechCounselor’s Instagram is @techcounselor.

 

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Opinions expressed and statements made in articles appearing on CT Online should not be assumed to represent the opinions of the editors or policies of the American Counseling Association.

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