Human Connection Will Always Matter: AI From A Counselling Perspective

  “AI is a Child of Humanity” T Panova

This week someone asked me why at my age I am so interested in AI. There are so many reasons, but it is mainly because I care about humanity. I want to learn so that I have a better understanding for my children, your children and my future grandchildren. Besides we are never too old to learn and now is the opportune time to do so.

As a Psychologist and former School Counsellor, I hope that you will explore resources and information that will guide you on a journey to understanding the complex world of AI. More importantly, I hope that you will bring humanity into all your conversations when it comes to AI. I believe that the therapeutic alliance will be more essential than ever before. AI won’t be able to connect the way a counsellor or therapist can. AI won’t be able to help in crisis situations. AI is not human although some may begin to treat it so. The counselling relationship is key and will always matter when it comes to being a helping professional. AI will most likely be used to augment and enhance counselling processes, so understanding how to utilize it will be of the utmost importance.

AI has the potential to impact an individual’s well-being, privacy, and autonomy. As counsellors, it is crucial to address the ethical implications of AI and ensure that its development, implementation, and use align with ethical standards. As counsellors and therapists our ethical standards will need to be revised.

Discussing AI from a counselling perspective will allow for a critical examination of its potential benefits and risks, fostering informed decision-making and responsible use now and in the future. Throughout these months in ETMOOC2 for which I am extremely grateful, I have been doing a lot of reading, discussing and thinking about AI. I hope that you too will begin exploring and learning. We are just at the beginning stages of paying attention and learning how AI will impact all of us. 

AI technology will most likely have psychological effects on individuals. For example, chatbots or virtual assistants designed to provide emotional support may impact the therapeutic relationship between clients and human counsellors. There is no way to predict how and what impact this will have. Time will tell, but we will need to assist clients who develop a trusting relationship with an AI instead of a human and the impacts that could potentially have on their therapeutic outcomes.

Addressing AI from a counselling perspective will allow for the exploration of the potential benefits and drawbacks of incorporating AI into therapeutic settings and school settings . We will need to consider the psychological impact on clients and students in the near future. How will you address these issues?

How will AI gather personal data, analyze emotional expressions, or even provide mental health assessments accurately?  It is important to discuss the potential impact of AI on emotional well-being and mental health, ensuring that AI systems are designed and used in ways that promote individuals’ psychological well-being. There is much to consider when it comes to AI.

How will AI enhance your counselling process?

Will AI help, harm or heal?

What part will you play in making a difference when it comes to AI?

How will you keep up and pay attention to the ethical considerations?

Will AI ever be able to show empathy, compassion, intuition, or cultural nuances?

I really like what Sherry Turkle asks, “Are we really ready to become a machine’s companion even if they are willing to become ours?”

As AI technology becomes more prevalent, individuals will continue to increasingly interact with AI systems in various domains of life. As Counsellors we can play a significant role in helping individuals navigate these interactions, offering support in establishing healthy boundaries, managing expectations, and coping with potential challenges that may arise in human-AI interactions. Knowing what resources are helpful will make a difference in you assisting your clients.

Ensuring that all voices are included in the training of AI systems so that biases will appear less frequently is essential. AI algorithms already perpetuate and amplify these biases. Let’s work together for positive change that is more inclusive for all.

Understanding AI from a counselling perspective will allow for discussions of the potential preferences in AI systems and their implications. We need to ensure that our, and our client’s privacy rights are respected and protected now and in the future.

By addressing AI from a counselling perspective, you as a helping professional can help raise awareness, promote responsible and ethical AI practices, and support individuals in navigating the impact of AI on their well-being and mental health. My suggestion for learning how AI will impact what you do is to start slow and learn as much as you can whenever you can. 

AI does matter when it comes from a counselling perspective. My hope is that you take a look at some of the resources below and share your resources, thoughts and ideas. Some articles could be used as a starting dialogue for professional development sessions, others may pique your personal interest in this topic.My suggestion is to put down or better yet put away your phones whenever you are face-to-face with another person. Have a real conversation making them the most important person in the room whether discussing AI or not. I look forward to staying connected with others who will commit to keeping AI and humanity at the forefront of their growth knowing that human connection will always matter.

AI References and Resources

AI and You: The Journey Is Just Beginning

Are you ready to embark on a journey of discovery and exploration into the exciting world of AI? Whether you’re a visionary who dreams of what’s possible or a pragmatic problem-solver who likes to get their hands dirty, there’s a place for you in the AI revolution and in our mini MOOC.

As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of technology, it’s important that we keep humanity at the forefront of our conversations. After all, the decisions we make today about AI will have a profound impact on the future of our children and grandchildren.

That’s why we invite you to join us in #ETMOOC2, where we’ll dive deeper into the complexities of AI and its intersection with our lives. This mini MOOC is a unique opportunity to engage with peers from around the world, share ideas, ask questions, and learn from each other.

You may just be starting to think about AI and its impact on you and the world. Wherever you are on this journey we’d like to have you join us.

So what are you waiting for? Register now for #ETMOOC2 and join the conversation about artificial intelligence and you. Let’s work together to create a future where AI serves the best interests of humanity.

All It Takes Is A Defining Moment

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For Desmond Tutu meeting Trevor Huddleston determined the path of his life. In my own life there are many defining moments that led me to who I am today. Teachers, coaches , community members and a School Counsellor had an impact.

In grade 12 (1976) my School Counsellor Mrs. Brown gave me $100.00 towards my post secondary education. My family could not afford to pay my way. I was the first in my family to go to University so it was certainly a big deal. I did not realize at the time just how much money that was or even how incredible it was that she did that. What a gift and an impact she had on the trajectory of my life. A lacrosse scholarship and a bursary ( both recommended by community members) paid for all four years of my Bachelor of Child Study degree. How fortunate was I ?

I never underestimate the power of a small (albeit grand) gesture in forming who we are and what we choose to do in our lives. I intentionally make sure each day I work with students I keep that in mind. I intentionally pay it forward on as many occasions as I can.

All it takes is a defining moment and you might be the one that makes that happen and if someone makes that happen for you tell them.

Books to Help High School Students Navigate Life

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I asked a few of my educator friends about a book they would recommend and here is the list. I’ll start with my favourite by Viktor Frankl. The rest are in no particular order.

1. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl

2. Tuesdays With Morrie

3. Wherever You Go There You Are

4. The Alchemist

5. Make A Dash

6. The Hate You Give

7. Fountainhead

8. The Upside of Unrequited

9. The Total Money Makeover

10. A Child Called It

11. Make Your Bed

12. Everything I know I learned In Kindergarden

13. City of Joy

14. Don’t Throw Sand in The Sandbox

15. 1984

16. Grapes of Wrath

17. To Kill A Mockingbird

18. Do What You Are

19. Netsmart

20. Financial Peace University

What book would you recommend?

Celebrate the Moments

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Today is my mom’s 81st birthday and I surprised her with a visit.Last year we got to celebrate her 80th with a big splash. It’s important to celebrate life everyday, but especially important to acknowledge all the special days. Today I got to spend time with my family. I live 4,836 km away and have for the past forty years. I come home every summer and already got to spend time with my mom , but I am still 397 km away. So today I drove to see my mom for her birthday.

Don’t forget the birthdays, the anniversaries the special occasions, but especially remember to surprise people every now and then with your presence , a gift ,a letter a note or something that will make someone’s day. It’s always been important, but especially now. Celebrate the moments , but more important celebrate the people.

Reason To Hold On Tight

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We all need a reason to be. Maybe your reason is obvious and maybe not. It could be just around the corner and you can’t see it quite yet. Each of us will discover our own reason in our own way in our own time, So hold on tight. You have a purpose in being here.

Taking Life For Granted

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Even though I sometimes say I don’t, I know I do take life for granted. Living through a pandemic makes you examine and reflect on your life. I know there are too many things that I have taken for granted. What about you?

Taking living life without a pandemic in it for granted. Now, listening to the sickness and deaths and tragedies of so many around the world and feeling powerless to stop it, but doing your part as best you can.

Not being able to see your best friend F2F.

The joys of inviting whoever you want for dinner.

Spending time with family and friends and not worrying how close you are to them or of they will get sick.

Walking around freely, not carrying the worries of the world on your shoulders.

Going to work, loving what you do without thinking that what you do could lead to someone being sick or worse.

Thinking your children have finally made it in the world, only now you worry about their security and what their future and the future of your potential grandchildren will look like.

Living life the best you know how, realizing you have reached retirement, but never imagining how the world would turn out in your lifetime.

The joys of having a girls weekend or a shopping trip or other small pleasure that you like doing..

The simple pleasures of going to a farmers market.

The small mundane things that are no longer mundane.

Life as you used to know it and so many other things that you still take for granted.

While these and many more things can be difficult , I choose to embrace every day and remember I can live life in the best way possible given some of the things I took or take for granted. I will seek out ways to enjoy what is, as it is for today.

You Make The World A Better Place

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In this world we encounter a few people who change how we feel about life. Around 30 years ago you entered my life. I was not looking for a new friend, but oh how the loss would have been mine if I did not open my heart to new friendships. A lesson that has sustained me to this day.

Today is your birthday and I want to celebrate you and all that you are.

Fun and spontaneous Remember the time we were Thelma and Louise (without the driving off the cliff part) ? We bought new hats, scarves and dresses took off in your moms convertible and laughed and created memories to our hearts delight.

Intelligent Remember the times we have chatted about life’s problems and concerns and while often we agree, sometimes we don’t and those can be great conversations with you.

Generous I have watched you be generous to others in so many ways you never get acknowledged for. You have given me so many beautiful and thoughtful gifts over the years. Thanks from the bottom of my heart.

Accomplished I have loved celebrating and watching you do what you do best.

Courageous You have encountered many challenges in your life and have overcome them with grace and determination.

Champion You are a champion for so many and especially care about those with severe challenges.

Dependable I can count on you to be there anytime I need a friend.

Sensational The many times we spent together with our children laughing and doing silly things. Oh what fun. You are an outstanding auntie to my kids. They love you.

Effervescent I love spending time with you. It is never dull. Our trips together together to Vegas, Palm Springs and Mexico or wherever we are in the world are always full of joy. Even when we just vegetate together it is fun.

Beautiful heart and mind. You are beautiful inside and out.

You are optimistic, unwavering, determined, vibrant, accepting, kind and so much more. I cannot imagine my life without you in it. We have created so many memories that make me smile every time I think of them. We have laughed (too many times to count) and cried together. We have weathered many storms, trials and tribulations and come out on the other side knowing that we are and will always be here for each other.

I appreciate all that you are and all that you do. I value YOU. You enrich my life and make it better because you are in it. I love you my friend and look forward to all that life brings us as we journey through it.

You make the world a better place.

In Love

31 years ago when I was 30, I gave birth to our first child. She was six weeks premature. I was so scared , but immediately and profoundly in love. There is no experience like it that’s for sure. No one prepares you for the overwhelming love you are about to feel. That love never goes away, but the intensity of it ebbs and flows.

Today I am so grateful for the woman she has become. The two weeks in intensive care are still vivid in my mind. The moments in between can be a blur sometimes. How does time go by so fast?

The teen years were quite the ride, but today as I look at her, I am filled with the intense love I felt for her that moment she was born. Today, she is an amazing, caring, loving, kind, intelligent young woman whom I love spending time with.

Treasure all those moments , even the teen years they go by so fast. In loving our daughter, I became a better human being one who loves her child more than mere words could ever describe. Thank you for being born and thanks to the nurses and doctors who helped her live, especially my dear friend Darlene, one of the neonatal intensive care nurses. I love you my precious daughter. With you in it I know there is hope for a better world.

Everyone Has A Story


Especially during this time everyone will have a story of how they got through Covid19 or what happened to them , a family member or friend.

Our role as helpers will be to listen and support, no matter the story. It won’t necessarily be easy as sometimes we may be triggered when listening to others. We are not perfect, I know I am not that’s for sure. I want to give myself an extra dose of compassion at this time as I too have had a range of emotions. Maybe you should too.

We are humans and our humanity makes us people who are often complex. Being the best person we can be is a lifetime venture, filled with many bumps along the way. Through this pandemic many will have gigantic bumps to deal with, my heart goes out to those that do.

As you and I both navigate this chapter in our lives may we do it with courage , grace , compassion and help others along the way that are struggling to the best of our ability, because everyone has a story that they may or may not be willing to share behind the smile..