Is online counselling for you?
Advances in technology have created greater opportunities in the way we can communicate with each other. It is now possible to have a conversation with anyone even on the other side of the world from the comfort of our own homes. This also applies to how we may choose to access counselling in our ever increasingly busy lives.
So what is online counselling?
Simplistically, it is any form of talking therapy that is conducted over the Internet. There are many reasons why people may prefer online counselling to say perhaps the more conventional face-to-face method, so what might these be?
Clearly, there is the convenience factor. Online counselling is more easily accessible, meaning that you can schedule a therapy session whenever it suits you best, without having to consider the additional travel time, potential stress in getting there, finding a parking space nearby and all the energy this requires of you, not to mention time wasted in the interim.
Sometimes these issues are enough in themselves as they create additional unnecessary barriers, further stress and leave us feeling perhaps more overwhelmed, which may deter our access to counselling further.
For those that perhaps have identified clear benefits in favour of online counselling and want to give it a go, firstly please consider the sort of person that you are. Do you need to be in the same room talking face to face with someone, in order to feel comfortable about discussing your problems? Or might this make you feel more embarrassed and/or self-conscious?
For some people, talking about their issues face to face can make them feel more vulnerable, or even ashamed and out of control. This is perfectly normal and can be important aspects in our decision-making process when choosing the type of access that suits us best for counselling.
For many others, email or a chat style methods of counselling work best because they like the additional aspect of remaining anonymous. Online counselling can offer a greater level of privacy and confidentiality, as you can decide how much to reveal and when as you don’t have to see your counsellor and as a result may worry less about what they might be thinking.
Some people have argued about the efficacy of online counselling, but there is a growing body of evidence that demonstrates time and time again that the therapeutic effect felt by clients is similar to that of face to face counselling.
Through my experience, I have found my relationships with online clients as intimate and revealing of themselves as face to face clients. Many of my clients say they feel freer to verbalise exactly what they want using email or chat as they can remain hidden from view, others say they can ignore that inner voice that nags them of the possibility of initially feeling judged. Of course as counsellors we are trained to accept and respect people for who they are and remain non-judgmental, but clearly this needs to be conveyed through trusting relationships.
Hopefully now you can consider more fully what is important for you and your reasons for choosing the kind of therapy platform that suits you best, depending on your personal circumstances.