There is no doubt that guidance on social media is here to stay and will only intensify,” says Stefan Kühne, who is an editor of the Austrian/German online journal about online guidance, e-beratungsjournal.net.
“Today, almost everyone has access to the internet. This means that all guidance clients can be reached through online communication. People seeking guidance also contact guidance counsellors via e-mail or chat, which can already be the beginning of a guidance process, even though an organization does not have any online guidance yet. Social media seems to make it easier for both the guidance counsellors and the guidance clients to exchange information as well as to act as interactive communication channels for guidance,” says Stefan Kühne, who is also Director of Studies of a diploma degree in online guidance and works as a guidance counsellor at the wienXtra centre. He adds that guidance counsellors everywhere need to familiarize themselves with the new tools, so they are able to properly service people seeking guidance in the future.
“Today, there are more possibilities of getting in touch with people seeking guidance. You can offer them information on websites, do interactive tests and design FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) for everyone that wishes to know more about a specific topic. On the other hand, we do not know whether the social media of today will still be here next year. Therefore, we need to learn about new media and new ways of providing guidance counselling, even if we are unsure if we will ever benefit from our efforts,” Stefan Kühne states. And even if you are an experienced face-to-face guidance counsellor, it is still imperative to learn about new methods in online guidance processes,” he emphasizes.
“This is due to the fact that online communication is different in so many ways. Often only written (and not oral) communication is used, it can be both synchronous and asynchronous (face-to-face guidance is always synchronous), you do not know a lot about the guidance client (you only have written communication and often not even a real name). Additionally, there are a number of technical and legal issues that you need to address.”
This will undoubtedly challenge the guidance counsellor’s monopoly, which exists today. Today, it is possible for people seeking guidance to find a lot of information themselves and they can to a larger extent control the guidance process, Stefan Kühne points out.
“If you believe that a guidance counsellor is someone who has all the answers and who controls the guidance process, you will most likely have a problem with social media. There has been a shift in the guidance process, which means that today the guidance client can decide: which way to communicate (e-mail, chat, social media), the time of the communication (24/7) and where it should take place. The guidance client can even control the process – if he/she does not want to partake in the guidance anymore, it is very easy to exit a chat or to not reply to an e-mail. In this way, the guidance clientss have become more independent and not all guidance counsellors like this,” Stefan Kühne says.
“Another thing is that today there is so much information on the internet. 10-15 years ago this information was only available in brochures or at the guidance office. Therefore, the guidance counsellors had personal knowledge about a lot of things and had a sort of monopoly on that knowledge. What can a guidance counsellor offer a guidance client that has already spent several hours researching a particular topic – and therefore already knows all of the issues and solutions? Nevertheless it is important to emphasize that online guidance cannot fully replace face-to-face guidance,” Stefan Kühne states.
“No. Guidance via the internet is simply an additional communications channel that provides people seeking guidance with more possibilities to get in touch with guidance counsellors. However, not all people seeking guidance want to communicate solely via writing. Many still wish to seek out a guidance counsellor, talk to them face-to-face or over the telephone”, Stefan Kühne says.