In Knowsley where we run a blended service, online, community and school based therapeutic services, we have developed a service to support young people who are self -harming. The service has trained all staff in DBT skills with four staff having the full ten day intensive training already. The service offers online support programmes and self -help information, therapeutic group and one to one work to disseminate the skills needed to manage distressing feelings and behaviours. Referrals come from GPs, young people who can self refer, teachers and pastoral staff, YOT, specialist CAMHs and our online team. The service was developed from research from University of Salford, commissioned by Knowsley Children and Young People Directorate and will be evaluated over the next few months.
Xenzone’s Kooth.com forms part of Lincolnshire County Council’s approach to delivering their tiered CAMHs services. In partnership with Lincolnshire NHS and Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Lincolnshire County Council reshaped their Tier two CAMHs services to deliver an innovative Mental Health and Wellbeing Service. In March Lincolnshire received Highly Commended for their service, in the 2013 Local Government Chronicle Award
The approach was lauded as being innovative and has made successful gains in reducing the pressure on specialist services, reducing waiting lists and ensuring young people receive effective timely interventions from a community and school based Primary Mental Health Team and KOOTH online. GPs, Social Care Professionals, parents and other agencies can refer into this pathway as can young people themselves. Online access is immediate and the online team work with the PMHW to ensure both parts of the service are joined up. For more information do contact Charlotte Gray on Charlotte.Gray@lincolnshire.gov.uk or 01522 553783
We specialise in online therapy and have been delivering excellent online services for many years. However, we are starting to see a new trend emerging which we call “blended services”. It is early days yet, but we have found that some commissioners who have been happy with our online service are interested in asking us to deliver face to face counselling too.
We recently won a contract in Powys to deliver face to face counselling to young people and this now complements our online service KOOTH.com which has operated in Powys for several years. It is great for young people because they can now self-refer for face to face counselling via KOOTH.com, and while they are waiting for an appointment they can benefit from access to online support.
Our Locality Manager in Llandrindod Wells is Louise Greenwood, who is well known in Powys as she previously worked as a school based counsellor in the area for Barnados, and when we won the contract via a tender in October 2012 we were delighted that Louise transferred over to our team.
We now deliver blended services i.e. online and face to face counselling in Cornwall, Powys and Knowsley. Young people and commissioners seem to be happy with the way these two equally valid ways of working are complementing each other.
Xenzone’s KOOTH.com service been in operation for almost nine years and around 10,000 young people use the service every year. We have learned a lot since we opened our virtual doors almost a decade ago and would like to let you know some of this too. Over the next few months we will be sharing some of our practise with you via newsletters and podcasts and would be delighted to hear your views and opinions on what we have to say.
Essentially our first learning is that young people can’t stand waiting lists! Early Intervention has to be what it says on the tin -delivered at the time it is needed. Many services have learned this lesson and organisations that work with young people at both a statutory and non-statutory level have introduced successful measures to cut lists and see young people quickly. On-line services can really support this process, acting as a holding ground for face -to-face services as well as offering young people a credible alternative to face to face counselling. Our second learning is that good on-line services will work in a blended way allowing those who need specialist support to be referred in via the on-line service and/or to work alongside other services simultaneously. At KOOTH we have often found that young people need to trial support out in an on-line context before they are able to cope with traditional services, but this means having established localised pathways in place. Watch this extract to see how we do it.
At KOOTH we find we work with a range of different needs- much of our work is early identification – young people who need somewhere to offload their problems – many of which are common based issues for adolescents. They can be here and now concerns such as friendship difficulties, exam stress, transition worries (primary school to high school) and identity issues. In social care or comprehensive CAMHS- speak we would say they are tier one concerns. However, a substantial proportion of young people using KOOTH have more complex concerns ranging from loss due to family breakdown or fragmentation, past sexual abuse, anxiety and stress, self harm and suicidal thoughts. These young people may be coping, just, and working with a counsellor on-line allows them to work through these issues and develop new ways of thinking and strategies to cope. Our counsellors use a mixed bag of evidenced approaches from CBT to solution focused but always within a relational and systemic context. The relationship is a key component of effective therapy in on-line counselling just as it is for face to face work. Some of our young people are extremely vulnerable and these young people will need input from other services. This is where pathways are not only important but essential to the work. For many of these young people it is the life-line -the thing that makes the difference. A good on-line service can be the step towards getting this support. One young person generously gave her time to explain this in the following podcast.
We hope you have found this useful. Do come back to us if you have any questions and we look forward to talking to you soon.
New Website in the making
Work is underway building a brand new KOOTH website. After listening to young people’s feedback on KOOTH and carrying out focus groups in schools, we are now well on the way to building a brand new KOOTH website. The new site will be funkier and more colourful and it will have some new exciting features.
We are also looking to pilot an interactive therapeutic programme for young people dealing with anxiety with CCBT Limited called BRAVE. Watch this space for launch details.
Counselling for adults
QwellCounselling.com is a cost effective, online service developed for adults, open to be commissioned by CCGs, schools, public health and employers from both the public and private sector.
Qwellcounselling.com has also been developed with schools and educational establishments in mind. We are aware that support for teachers, including those supporting students with complex issues, is not readily available.
Find out more about how you can support your staff, contribute to their general well-being and reduce absence. QwellCounselling.com is available online and easy to use. The service offers an initial assessment session followed by booked one-to-one sessions with a qualified practitioner. There’s an online magazine and messaging service, too. You can find out more about the service here.
Xenzone Ltd are the the leading pioneers in online counselling. Visit our website at www.xenzone.com. See the recent, short film made by ITN, hear and read what people know about the service or speak directly to Elaine Bousfield on 0845 330 7090.
Jan Clitheroe has been appointed Service Manager at Xenzone Ltd, the Manchester-based pioneers in design and delivery of e-therapy services. Her appointment has been the culmination of a flurry of development and expansion at Xenzone Ltd who operate Kooth.com, the award-winning, online counselling service for young people between 11 and 25 years of age.
New contracts in Lincolnshire, Kirklees and Cornwall, and re-commissions in Knowsley and Warwickshire have necessitated new and senior appointments. Counsellors Aaron Sefi and Marie Rhodes will now head up the Xenzone counselling teams in Cornwall and Knowsley, respectlvely, as Locality Managers, and the company has recruited four new full time counsellors for both areas, as well as a small team of associate counsellors and support workers.
Jan Clitheroe, formerly Centre Manager at Platform 51 Women & Girls, has worked in the voluntary sector for over 25 years, in the last 10 on project development and management. She said: I’m looking forward to utilising my skills as a manager alongside my interest in mental health to support Xenzone in meeting its goals.”
Xenzone MD, Elaine Bousfield commented: “Jan’s arrival is key to our expansion and development and I’m confident that our counselling teams will rise to the challenge to maintain the Kooth.com principles of operation. I’m also very pleased that the calibre of our existing counsellors meant we were able to promote from within, too.”
The “formula” for the success of this service across many Local Authority areas in the UK has been the focus on the needs of young people. We receive feedback on our web site but also visit schools and talk to commissioners, so we know what young people want and what commissioners want.
For young people the important aspects of KOOTH.com are:
- anonymity – they are prepared to ask for help because they are in control; they don’t have to give contact details and can logout at any point.
- confidentiality – what they discuss with a counsellor is subject to the normal client-counsellor confidentiality rules
- different ways to get help – some users do not like the immediacy of chat, so they can use mail. Others don’t want to interact with a counsellor but can get information/advice from the magazine articles. Others like to compare notes with their peers in the pre-moderated support forums.
- it’s free
For commissioners the advantages are:
- access to lots of information via the reports; many young people on KOOTH.com are “below the radar” and have not yet become known to other services
- very accessible by target user group – users can access help from their homes/schools libraries at times to suit them. We are open until 10pm unlike many other counselling services and being online we sidestep any issues with transport or premises which may apply to face to face services
- good value for money because counsellors are not wasting time if a young person “DNAs” (does not attend) – there are plenty of other young people to chat to in drop-in chat if a booked appointment fails to show, plus there are always mails to answer and posts to moderate
- local marketing by visiting schools/training; local news articles in the magazine; signposting/ referrals to local services if appropriate
Lincolnshire, Kirklees and Cornwall Councils have commissioned Xenzone to deliver their award winning counselling service KOOTH.com in their areas. We are delighted to be able to bring counselling and support to even more young people. Our goal is to break down the stigma around mental health and to provide top quality services in a way that suits each person’s individual circumstances
Training has begun in schools and youth settings across these counties and young people are being provided with contact details for the service. The good thing about this service is that any young person can access it without the need to be referred by a professional.
Councillor Mrs Patricia Bradwell, Executive Councillor for Children’s Services in Lincolnshire said, “We are pleased to be piloting this service in Lincolnshire for a year in the first instance, which will help us to evaluate its effectiveness and how it is helping young people to overcome their problems. There can be a lot of pressure and strain on young people as they strive to develop and succeed in competition with their peers and this service has already been used successfully by many youngsters in other parts of the country.”
In Cornwall we are providing both online and face to face support for young people. The Locality Manager, Aaron Sefi, was brought up in Cornwall and has moved back there to help make this important new service a success.
KOOTH.com will now be operating in Blaenau Gwent, Cardiff, Cheshire East, Cheshire West & Chester, Cornwall, Dudley, Kirklees, Knowsley, Lincolnshire, Oldham, Powys, Warwickshire and Wirral.
As recognised leaders in the field of online counselling in the UK, award- winning Xenzone Limited was chosen to feature in an ITN, documentary-style film being shown at the recent NHS Alliance Conference. The film provides delegates with an insight into the effectiveness of online counselling, showing why it works for both commissioners and users.
The young people’s service, KOOTH.com is currently commissioned by 14 Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts. It offers FREE and confidential support and counselling and respects young people’s anonymity, thus providing an unparalleled service for the under 25′s who feel they have nowhere else to go for support.
GPs BENEFIT FROM NEW E-THERAPY SERVICE
Xenzone’s proven track record with its award-winning young people’s service, KOOTH.com, demonstrates that face-to-face counselling isn’t right for every patient suffering from mild to moderate mental health problems.
GPs spend around 30% of their time seeing patients with mental health issues and this figure is increasing year on year with many GPs feeling they are now facing a “mental health overload”, citing lack of necessary skills and limited access to support services.
Yet many are accountable for commissioning mental health services and will be targetted on improving health outcomes designed around patient needs.
Qwell (Qwellcounselling.com) is an online community where one-to-one therapy services are delivered by Xenzone’s professionally qualified team of therapists, counsellors and support workers. It offers users CBT sessions in “real time” with a therapist, minimising drop-out rates and GPs are provided with outcome scored, monthly reports to track patient progress.
Online counselling is just as effective as, and cheaper, than face-to-face alternatives – GPs only pay for the hours used. It’s popular, too; 50% of adult internet users already go online to seek advice on health issues.
Xenzone has recently won new contracts with Dudley and Lincolnshire and has been re-commissioned by Warwickshire and Knowsley. Xenzone is also working directly with schools in Kirklees and Surrey. Managing Director Elaine Bousfield comments:
“We’re delighted to be working with new health authorities and I believe the re-commissions speak for themselves.”