There are so many changes in our environment and online therapy is another one of those changes. Online counseling is identified as e-counseling, e-therapy, cyber-counseling, and tele-therapy. This is a new method in therapy or counseling that provides counseling and support online.
What is online counseling or e-therapy etc.? This is a method of counseling that serves as a support system for those clients who either do not have the time to go to a face-to-face session, are homebound, live in a rural area or travel a lot for work.
How are these services delivered? There are various ways that clients can communicate with a therapist via email, real-time chat and video conferencing. Typically it will depend on how the client is most comfortable.
How effective is therapy via these mediums? Clients receive the same benefits from a professional mental health counselor would provide on a 1:1 – face-to-face session.
Who is it for? Online counseling or e-therapy is for those who need to navigate through a tough time such as marriage or relationship problems, with children, family, work and general life situations. The online counseling is designed so that the client can achieve emotional support in real time.
What are the benefits of online or e-counseling? It is easily accessible, a perfect match for those who would probably not otherwise follow-up with counseling. It is an easy way to access emotional support in real time.
Those who also benefit greatly from e-counseling are adolescents and young adults. Because they are so comfortable with technology namely texting, email and video chatting they quickly adapt to this mode of counseling. With counseling there is no scheduling appointments you can send your text immediately and receive a response within hours.
It also reduces the stigma of having to see a therapist which oftentimes is a deterrent to clients seeking help. It has been found that clients are often more honest in online counseling because they are not face-to-face with the mental health professional, therefore, they are more comfortable self-disclosing.
The benefit of e-counseling is the writing much like journaling redirecting emotions on paper is suggested to immediately begin to relieve stress. The e-exchange with a mental health professional also gives the client the opportunity to contemplate each of the points slowly prior to proceeding on to the next thing.
Who is it not for? People who have serious mental illness, those who are suicidal or contemplating suicide, and those who want a diagnosis. It is not for those who need intensive therapy services or those with PTSD related trauma. This kind of therapy has ultimate results in a face-to-face setting. It is difficult to make accurate assessments when a person is not mentally stable. Since there are no verbal or physical queues the counseling professional cannot adequately assist the client.
There is no touch factor in e-counseling or e-therapy. Clients cannot be handed a tissue or touched on the shoulder when discussing difficult or traumatic episodes of their lives. Clients cannot see their counselor or therapist if they are communicating via email, text or tele-communication. Sometimes this can be difficult for the client.
Never-the-less, online counseling is growing fast and furious. Consumers of online counseling are tech savvy and they are knowledgeable about mental illness, symptoms, disorders and various medications. The collaboration of internet and therapy has been long coming and consumers are increasingly embracing it.
Although it is not a perfected and it has its limitations it has also served as a God-sent to millions of clients who need a quick remedy for a current problem. Next week I will present two case studies where this e-therapy was fruitful and the clients benefited greatly from online counseling services.
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