The Wits University Counselling and Careers Development Unit (CCDU) has moved its services online for the rest of 2021. The unit suspended its face-to-face service on March 19, 2020, as the country went into a national lockdown due to the covid-19 pandemic.
The unit now offers personal and career counselling, as well as development services, through Microsoft Teams and Zoom. According to CCDU career educator, Raj Naran, the unit had always intended to offer its services online but covid-19 forced them to implement the idea sooner as staff were forced to work from home and students were not allowed on campuses.
“The transition to offering our services online was not easy in the beginning because we had to learn how to use different online platforms. The university was forthcoming with providing the necessary training, and we are finding ourselves having to work harder to understand the students’ situations and also to ensure their assistance to the best of our abilities”, Naran said.
While acknowledging how difficult it was to adapt to a new way of offering counselling services, Lynette Sikhakhane, a psychologist at the unit said, “the reception from students has been great, even though there is a stigma attached to students making use of CCDU. With the move of services online, more students are continuing to come forward to ask for help and some ask for group sessions”.
Sibonile Masibi, a second year LLB student, told Wits Vuvuzela that her experience with CCDU since it moved services online, “was not that bad”, and getting counselling from home made her comfortable. Masibi said she was also presented with an opportunity to choose a platform she preferred to receive counselling from CCDU.
“In order for students to book a session with the CCDU, they need to send the unit an email, which will be forwarded to the relevant staff member based on the services they need, and students also get to choose their preferred platform. In addition to using platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Zoom, other services are offered through live chats and webinars, for purposes of interactivity, and students getting immediate responses to their questions ”, Sikhakhane said.