My Story – Online Counselling

Sigurdur Hafthorsson, communication officer of the church of Sweden had a presentation on the online counseling. He told about the road of the church to online crisis counseling services.
Church of Sweden's online crisis counselling service is reaching out to people where they are at. Suicide prevention is the main task.

The goal is that Church of Sweden is active in digital media. Counseling is available for all Swedish speakers in the internet.

The Background: Crisis counseling via telephone 112 on call.  (70 000 calls a year),but  young adults don´t use this line. Earlier initiatives on online presence: Lunar storm- swedish site, chatting and hanging. There are many internet priests, chatting and discussing with youngsters. Church has also Q&A-“Ask the priest”- on the web. Church gets some crisis-questions via these services but the main aim is not crisis or counseling.

Pilot study: looked at the others sites (seelsorge.net) This is not new service we are providing (Switzerland had it for a decade), in Finland the Lutheran church has same kind of counseling service in internet.

Medium: all the media are different.
-    If someone is standing on the bridge, ready to jump, would he ask for help by e-mail? Either he would chat.  Telephone line is for immediate crisis, Sigurdur noted.

Church decided to go with chat and the mail. 4 days of a week, from 20-24 hours. One message- one answer. This is not supposed to be ongoing process. If they want to continue talking to priest, they will be advised to contact local parish and priest.

Project started in 2012 and the page will be opened in spring 2014.
-It is how things work in large churches, told Sigurdur and admitted that he is a bit disappointed how slowly things are happening and changing.

Everyone in ECIC considered this issue to be very imported. The discussion continues even after the conference: How to council on the web?

You can find the presentation in the internet.