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Panel Discussion on E-Counseling & Ethics: Various Speakers

Friday 6 November 2020, 10am – 12:00pm

Content Focus Area: Representing Service Providers and Statutory Councils

 

Programme Director: Dr. Pravesh Bhoodram 

Dr. Pravesh Bhoodram is a pioneer in the EAP field in the Public Service in South Africa having assisted 23 National Departments in implementing an EAP. He has served as an EAPA-SA Board member since 1998 in various capacities. He served two terms as a Community Representative on the Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa and was a Board member of the Leisure and Recreation Association of South Africa. He has also lectured on Ethics at the Tshwane University of Technology. He is an avid artist, art therapist, life coach and is hoping to play a greater role in wellness through this company – CR8IV INFLUENCE since he retired from DCS in 2020.

 

About this Panel Discussion

Since face to face counselling is no longer an option during the pandemic, EAPs have turned to providing this service via all different electronic devices. These include telephone calls, various video conferencing softwares, WhatsApp and others.

With this new way of working, there are benefits and also drawbacks. Ethical standards are to be maintained whilst new procedures are put into place.

EAPA-SA has gathered representatives from our industry to discuss the pros and cons of this way of counselling, as well as to discuss the ethical considerations of this electronic version of the counselling service.

DPSA Representative: Ms. Yoliswa Makhasi

 

Company Name: Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)

Degree or Highest Qualification: Masters in Philosophy (MPhil) in Coaching Management

Speaker Job Title: Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration

Biographical information related to the topic:

Yoliswa Makhasi is an activist beaurocrat who started her career in the public sector in 1996. She currently serves as Director General of the Department of Public Service and Administration since March 2020 – her responsibilities includes ensuring effective and efficient administration of the Department amongst others. Previously, she was Head of Department for Community Safety in Gauteng Provincial Government since 2016. She is a qualified Coach, strategist, communicator and an activist who has grown up in different ranks in the public service.

Her academic credentials include Masters in Philosophy (MPhil) in Coaching Management from University of Stellenbosch (2019); Masters Degree in Public Policy and Management from University of Manchester (UK) (2005); Bachelor of Arts Degree from Vista University (PE). She has continuously improved her skills and has obtained a number of certificates mainly from Wits University & Gordon Business School (GIBS) on project management, leadership, financial management, government communications etc.

Yoliswa has worked in different roles within the development sector and public service from operations, management and political/ strategic levels and has been exposed to different levels of decision-making, oversight, management and operations. Her key capabilities and competencies include policy development and analysis; strategic leadership, planning, monitoring and evaluation; project management, people management, stakeholder relations, partnerships and constituency building; risk management; corporate governance and communications.

Contact Details:

Email: Nyiko.Mabunda@DPSA.gov.za 

Tel: 012 336 1198

SACSSP Representative: Ms. Ida Strydom

 

Company Name: SACSSP

Degree or Highest Qualification: Social Worker

Speaker Job Title: Deputy Chairperson: Professional Board for Social Work. 

Biographical information related to the topic: “I completed my studies in 1980 and practiced since then as a social worker. I have been employed in the public sector since 1982 and worked in various units as a social worker and supervisor. Since 2001 I have held the position of Social Work Manager in Tshwane.

I was elected as a member of the PBSW in 2016. I serve as the deputy chairperson of the Board, the chairperson of the CPD Assessment committee, Committee for Preliminary Inquiries and on various other committees & task teams.

Social Work, like other professions, is challenged to explore the use of technology supported interventions to render services to clients in changed circumstances and emergencies. SACSSP developed Guidelines to assist social workers to remain ethical while exploring technology-supported interventions.”

Presentation Abstract: The implementation of technology-supported social work can transform the social work practice through provision of flexible, on-demand and individually tailored and paced services. Increased accessibility and the cost effectiveness of technology supported interventions are added advantages. At the same time, the basic premise remains that the standards of professional conduct for social workers are the same irrespective of whether services are provided face-to-face or online.

SACSSP developed Interim Ethical Guidelines for Social Workers in South Africa regarding technology-supported social work services to provide the necessary guidance; the document is currently consulted with the sector in order to finalize the Guidelines.

SAASWIPP Representative: Mr. Michael Batley

 

Company Name: South African Association of Social Workers in Private Practice (SAASWIPP)

Degree or Highest Qualification: MPhil in Applied Ethics.

Speaker Job Title: Chair of Ethics Portfolio

Biographical information related to the topic: In addition to being registered with the SA Council for Social Service Professions (SACSSP), Mike holds an MPhil in Applied Ethics. He has led the South African Association for Social Workers in Private Practice’s (SAASWIPP) Ethics Portfolio since 2016. In this capacity, he has lead the development of focusing on the importance of character as part of professional ethics. Mike has a keen interest in the intersection between professional and social ethics.

Presentation Abstract: This presentation will refer to the broader field of ethics and particularly the dimension of character. The implications of current technological developments and e-counselling will be examined from this perspective. The presentation will attempt to bring into focus the impact that increasing use of technology has on inequality and what this means for providing services in a context of constrained resources. Finally, the role that professional communities can play in nurturing sound professional character and the appropriate integration of technology will be explored.

Proactive Health Solutions: Dr. Fundile Nyati

Company Name: Proactive Health Solutions (Pty) Ltd {PHS}

Degree or Highest Qualification: Master’s Degree In Family Medicine

Speaker Job Title: CEO 

Biographical information related to the topic: Dr Fundile Nyati is a qualified Specialist Family Physician, experienced Healthcare entrepreneur and Healthcare industry thought leader who is the founder and current CEO of 20-year-old Proactive Health Solutions (Pty) Ltd, a leading integrated Employee Health and Wellness company in South Africa. In partial fulfilment of his postgraduate studies towards Masters in Family Medicine (M.Fam.Med) qualification at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in the late 90s, Dr Fundile Nyati conducted research in the area of African Traditional Medicine or African Indigenous Healing entitled “Use of Traditional Healers By Urban Black Africans – A Family Practitioner’s Perspective”.

Presentation Abstract: The Upside Of COVID-19 pandemic globally, and here in South Africa has been the almost enforced acceleration of acceptance of e-counseling modalities as  legitimate, credible and relatively safe mode of delivery and consumption of professional counseling services. 

With no real options beyond remote counselling professional services, more and more people took the plunge and explored remote professional counselling especially use of virtual face to face. Once many experienced the new modalities, and their anxieties about virtual face to face were allayed, it was not long that they made this previously shunned mode of professional delivery a new norm, and many then made it their mode of choice for professional counselling then routinely opted for it, and this enforced acceptance of remote counselling modalities will continue long after COVID-19 pandemic has passed.

It is now therefore imperative for all relevant statutory professional bodies to fully embrace the new norm, and their focus should be to regulate its use, set minimum standards and ensure that the interests of the consulting public on issues like confidentiality, data storage (including security of data from e.g. hackers) are proactively managed. It is also worth noting  that the national association of clinical psychologists (PsySSA) have long given their blessings (at their annual conference in 2018) to remote counselling. Comparative research elsewhere in the world has long shown that remote counselling professional services have been shown to achieve same and sometimes even better outcomes to traditional face to face professional counselling services. 

As key stakeholders in the EAP space, we must all work hand in glove to ensure that any reservations or weaknesses on the new norm counselling modalities are addressed comprehensively, and the consumers have now tasted the convenience and costs savings, they are unlikely to go back to pre COVID-19 counselling.

Careways Wellness: Safia Joseph

Company Name: Careways Wellness

Degree or Highest Qualification: MA Counselling Psychology

Speaker Job Title: KZN Project Manager and Clinical Consultant

Biographical information related to the topic: Safia Joseph – Project manager and clinical consultant of Careways Wellness, the wellness arm of Life Health Care. Safia has extensive experience in the field of employee wellbeing services and trauma, and has been a clinical affiliate for almost 20 years. She was the Area Head of Psychological Services at the SAPS for 5 years, and has been in private practice for 15 years.


Presentation Abstract: Electronic counseling or e-counseling is an emerging mode of therapy which has been especially useful during the restrictions enforced by the COVID-19 pandemic.  While e-counseling is not intended to replace face to face counseling, it does provide a variety of solutions to the geographical distances and time constraints one might face. Whilst e-counseling can provide a safe, supportive environment for clients to focus on their therapeutic process, communicating online also introduces particular challenges for creating and sustaining a working therapeutic relationship. Security, privacy and confidentiality are also central to the counseling process, and need interrogation as it is practiced within the e-counseling space and it is paramount that practitioners grasp the application of ethical principles to the technological context of online therapy.

Workforce Healthcare: Nevania Naidoo

Company Name: Workforce Healthcare

Degree or Highest Qualification: Masters Degree in Social Sciences- EAP specialisation

Speaker Job Title: Director of Employee Wellness

Biographical information related to the topic: Nevania’s long-standing career in health and wellbeing was launched on the success of a strong and multidisciplinary academic background which has led to her rich understanding of the wellness field from various angles and within all industries. This allows her to recognize the wellness needs of each demographic and the best way to meet those needs, especially during these times.

Presentation Abstract: Although e-counseling has always been available it has grown in the field due to the Covid-19 pandemic. With this in mind it can be said that although it has increased it was due to need and not popularity. Although a very convenient way of conducting counseling, there are many ethical variables which may be overlooked by therapist and patient alike. One may think that it is as simple as logging onto a zoom call but are all the privacy and safety measures taken into account. It has also made counseling easy no matter where the patient/employee is yet are all registrations up to date for all relevant countries if the patient is based out of S.A. E-Counseling at first glance is an easy way to access our clients, however all ethical measures must be taken to safeguard the practitioner and patient at all times.

ICAS South Africa: Navlika Ratangee

Company Name: ICAS South Africa

Degree or Highest Qualification: Master in Business Administration (MBA)

Speaker Job Title: Clinical Operations Director 

Biographical information related to the topic: Navlika Ratangee is the Clinical Operations Director at ICAS South Africa. A clinical psychologist with diverse experience in workplace wellbeing. She completed her MBA in 2016 as the top student of the programme. With executive education from Harvard Business School, Navlika is a seasoned presenter and chapter author on corporate mental health.

Presentation Abstract: With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic our world has not only been turned upside down, we have also been forced to embrace technology in more ways than ever imagined. This has accelerated what was already a growing trend of virtual counseling, and comes with quite a few considerations. Just like telephone counseling is a skill that is different to face-to-face counseling, so too is virtual counseling a skill that needs to be fine-tuned for improved effectiveness and client buy-in. As mental health concerns are on the rise, accessible ways to provide continued support need to work in tandem with effective implementation if we are to experience the desired effects of a more resilient population.

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