(PRWEB) April 24, 2012
Whilst face-to-face counselling remains the most popular and conventional delivery method, rapid developments in technology during the past decade now mean that many counsellors and psychotherapists are able to offer clients support using a variety of other communication channels.
Online counselling, telephone counselling and email counselling all offer support and confidentially similar to that of face-to-face treatment, but in addition also provide practical solutions to some of the difficulties of receiving treatment in a traditional setting.
In order to gain an insight into what individuals consider to be the key positives and negatives of online counselling, telephone counselling and email counselling, and also what aspects of these delivery methods were most appealing, Counselling Directory asked visitors to their website a series of questions.
Respondents revealed accessibility as the most important factor when looking for help, with affordability ranked second and anonymity ranked third, all aspects which are less common in face-to-face counselling
Counselling Directory also asked visitors why they would or would not consider Internet or telephone counselling.
For those who said they would consider online, email or telephone support, convenience was cited as a significant factor as many individuals are unable to see a counsellor during conventional working hours.
Interestingly, a number of respondents admitted to finding it much easier to outlet their feelings by writing them down (as in email counselling), because it allows time to be given to constructing a considered response. Total anonymity was also referenced as a benefit for many, with many clients feeling far more comfortable with their counsellor not knowing their identity.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, individuals who said they would prefer to see a practitioner in person felt that face-to-face counselling was more personal, with many expressing concerns that not being present physically could result in the counsellor overlooking vital signs communicated through body language.
So how realistic are these concerns?
Counselling Directory also carried out a second study, this time asking the professional counsellors themselves how effective they felt these services were and what they considered the benefits to be in a professional capacity.
Whilst 70% of respondents said they did not feel online, telephone and email counselling to be as effective as face-to-face, many stated that they believed these options to be extremely valuable in certain situations.
Liverpool based counsellor Wai Lan Yuen commented that although she feels online and telephone counselling approaches can’t match the impact and power of face-to-face counselling, she recognises that they are useful alternatives.
The BACP registered counsellor also noted that there are of course many benefits to counselling carried out over the Internet or by phone, namely increased accessibility, convenience of service, a quicker way to focus on specific issues, reduced overheads and a more confident form of communication for those who prefer to write about their problems.
‘I welcome the idea of online and e-mail counselling if it opens up counselling services to people who would otherwise find it difficult or uncomfortable to access traditional face-to-face counselling. However, it is important that clients are fully aware of the advantages of traditional counselling and the potential pitfalls of online or telephone counselling, so that they may make an informed choice of what may be of most value to their needs.’ Said Wai Lan.
Following surgery, BACP registered counsellor Christine Jackson was no longer able to sit for face-to-face sessions, but has since been able to carry out work over the telephone with at least 75% of her clients. Christine, who is based in Cheltenham, explained that whilst most clients seem quite reluctant at first, those willing to try one session have all continued to work productively in this way.
‘Once clients have overcome their fear of breaking away from the traditional counselling format, excellent results have been achieved’, she said.
As with all therapy types, online counselling, telephone counselling and email counselling will not work for everyone, and there are certainly some situations in which a face-to-face approach may be more beneficial.
However, if both counsellor and client agree that they are comfortable with using one of these methods and sessions can be carried out in a peaceful and safe environment, having counselling via Internet chat or carried out over the telephone can be just as meaningful and effective as sitting opposite a counsellor in the same room.
For individuals who are unable to receive treatment in a traditional setting and are looking for a counsellor who will carry out sessions online or over the telephone, Counselling Directory could prove to be a valuable resource. The directory have recently launched a new section of the website featuring comprehensive information about these counselling approach’s, including a new search feature allowing visitors to only search for counsellors and psychotherapists who specially offer those services.