DIS.CO “Counselling at a Distance”

The DIS.CO project is a strategic partnership supporting innovation in the field of vocational education and training, aiming at enhancing the work-based skills of counselling practitioners through networking and capacity building on the topic of Counselling at a Distance, when working with women victims of domestic or sexual violence or abuse. It aims to createspecialised training material and tools, to enhance the work-based competences of counselling practitioners and to facilitate the creation of virtual workspaces and alternative forms of victim support.

Traditionally, psychological therapies have been conducted face-to-face, but in recent years different ways of engaging in therapeutic contact have emerged. This includes systems utilizing written communication (such as e-mail or online “chat”), along with systems for audio communication (using, for example, public telephone networks) or for audio-visual communication (videoconference). What unites all three of these systems is that the therapistandclient are not physically present in the same space, and may not be present at the same moment.

There are many communication tools that can be used for counselling at a distance, such as live-chat, e-mail, calls via mobile phone, teleconference, videoconference, Skypeandblogs. Counselling at a distance holds a number of advantages, namely accessibility, affordability, anonymity, convenience and flexibility. Equally important is that it provides access to counselling for persons that might otherwise not be able to get help, such as those with special needs, some disabled people, low-income patients without means of transportation, persons with busy lives, isolated persons who have no one to share their problems with, those who need daily follow-up contact or those where distance prohibits regular contact.

As online communication is quite prevalent in our daily lives nowadays, we consider it essential for victim support organisations and counselling practitioners working with women victims of violence or abuse to develop counselling at a distance competenciesso as to provide alternative, accessible and modern support services to beneficiaries.

DIS.CO. proposes an innovative approach based on the needs of both counselling practitioners and women victims of violence and abuse. In our project, analytical activities and exchanges of knowledge and good practices between project partners are undertaken in order to develop appropriate training material and tools. Despite the fact that the majority of victim support organisations conduct counselling at a distance through helplines, counsellors and volunteers do not receive specialised training on counselling a at distance as there is no training material available on the topic. Our project addresses this issue by providing DIS.CO. training material and distance learning tools that are available for free online in all project languages.

Project outputs:

– Professional’s profile & training curriculum in online counseling  
– Developing a course for professionals based on the curriculum
– Producing an e-learning course based on the training
– Launching a safety planning application
– Developing a practical guide for training counsellors at a distance

Outputs are available in English, Estonian, German, Greek & Spanish.

Dis.Co is funded by the EU programme Erasmus+ (Key Action: Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices) and runs from December 2017 until November 2019. Agreement Number: 2017-1-EL01-KA202-036170. 

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