Should counseling center staff text with their student-patients?

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shutterstock_129038348The emergence of the Crisis Text Line among other SMS options for students reaching out in a crisis presents an interesting question for caregivers: does the immediacy and ubiquity of text messaging as a form of communication outweigh the potential negatives of the approach? If clients text their caregivers, is the caregiver in a position to respond? Does the format’s brevity and disembodied character limit its effectiveness? What about the potential for misunderstandings? But many students report that sending a text message is much more congenial to them than dialing a phone number and speaking to whomever answers, so what is the right approach? In this article, one caregiver bottom lines the issue by saying:

“If they are in distress,” she said, “I would much rather that they text me than do nothing.”

Please share your thoughts in Comments below! What is your response to using text messaging in your work with students? Does your school have a policy? Do you promote the use of third party services like Crisis Text Line?

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