Svenska kyrkan

Digital conversation system for family counselling

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In the present coronavirus situation, with increased restrictions on social interaction, many people are spending more time in the home. This can be challenging to close relationships. In response, the Church of Sweden has developed a digital conversation solution for family counselling, which is now being trialled in Stockholm. The system is encrypted to meet the strict confidentiality requirements.

The coronavirus situation is taking a toll on close relationships. In response, the Church of Sweden is offering a digital family counselling service. Photo: Magnus Aronson/Ikon
The coronavirus situation is taking a toll on close relationships. In response, the Church of Sweden is offering a digital family counselling service. Photo: Magnus Aronson/Ikon

During crisis preparations at National Level in the Church of Sweden, there was early recognition of the need for digital solutions when the pandemic broke out, for example for different kinds of conversations demanding a high level of confidentiality. For example, family counselling around the country highlighted the importance of finding an alternative to face-to-face meetings for family therapy.

“It is clear that the physical distancing also puts a strain on people’s close relationships. We have prioritized finding a safe and user-friendly solution that can be used by the Church's family counselling services, but also by others”, says Erik Gyll, Coordinator for Children and Young People in Support Diakonia at the National Level of the Church of Sweden.

Early in the process, it became clear that the holding of conversations in absolute confidentiality, in other words pastoral care conversations with a priest, is not currently a viable option. This is because the legal perspective with regard to security needs to be further clarified. The conversations that the Church of Sweden has continued to work on are conversations in confidentiality but not absolute confidentiality, and we have looked at solutions that are used by other professions, such as doctors and psychologists, via mobile phone or computer.

“After a short pilot phase in Stockholm, we hope to be able to offer this system to the Church's other family counselling services in Sweden, but also to other activities with a similar need, such as conversations not in absolute confidentiality in hospital chaplaincy activities, supervision or the parish”, says Erik Gyll.  

The Church's family counselling services are available in 24 locations in Sweden, through approximately 50 family counsellors.

Contacts:
Erik Gyll
, Coordinator for Children and Young People in Support Diakonia at the National Level of the Church of Sweden: erik.gyll@svenskakyrkan.se, +46(0)18-16 95 56.

Anders Högberg, Head of Operations, Church Family Counselling Services  in Stockholm: anders.hogberg@svenskakyrkan.se, +46(0)8-615 11 70, +46(0)70-718 27 12.

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The coronavirus situation is taking a toll on close relationships. In response, the Church of Sweden is offering a digital family counselling service. Photo: Magnus Aronson/Ikon
The coronavirus situation is taking a toll on close relationships. In response, the Church of Sweden is offering a digital family counselling service. Photo: Magnus Aronson/Ikon
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The Church of Sweden is a national church, open to everyone living in Sweden regardless of nationality. It is a place for church services, meetings and dialogue. The Church of Sweden is an Evangelical Lutheran church with 5,9 million members. There are 3500 churches in Sweden, and 13 dioceses.

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