The world of traditional counselling is being transformed by technology and demand for more flexible, accessible, and creative ways of participating in counselling is becoming greater. In early 2018, four years after completing an Advanced Diploma in Psychotherapy and Counselling, I decided to complete a Diploma in Online Counselling and Skills Training. This has given me the skills needed to provide a professional and ethical online service. It has taught me a great deal about online netiquette and the additional skills needed in order to be an effective online therapist. I am ACTO registered and continue to develop my skills and experience in the field of online therapy. I will share with you why online Counselling has advantages and is becoming increasingly popular:
- Time and money is saved on needing to travel to the therapist.
- No one sees you go into your therapist’s consulting room.
- Often easier and faster to access – geographical location and the ability to travel are not an obstacle.
- Can be suited to your communication preferences e.g. audio, written or video call.
- You are more in control of how and where your therapy takes place.
- There is research and evidence that backs the effectiveness of online counselling.
- Appointments are less disruptive to your daily routine as you haven’t got to go anywhere and can have things running in the background (like the washing machine!)
- In email and instant messaging counselling you feel less self-conscious so may find it easier to express your emotions and disclose information.
- You can have your therapy in a place you feel most comfortable in – when we are relaxed, self-disclosure is easier.
- In email counselling you aren’t under any pressure to respond within a certain time frame. This gives greater time for self-reflection and allows you to spend as long as you like expressing your feelings and life situation.
- Some people say the ‘true-self’ is more likely to appear online than in person. The more open and honest you can be in therapy the more you may get out of it.
- Online counselling can be a stepping stone to therapy for many isolating conditions like social anxiety disorder, OCD, agoraphobia, and self-image problems.
So who is online therapy for? Anyone who can use a computer or smart device is capable of accessing mental health services online. It helps to be familiar with communicating with people via email, IM, telephone and Facetime or video call. I encourage clients to work with me using whichever of these online communication methods they feel most comfortable with and best suits their needs. Some examples of the types of people who choose online therapy over traditional face-to-face counselling include:
- Those who are not geographically close enough to get to the therapist.
- Business travellers and celebrities.
- Expats living abroad.
- Those who have a hearing or sight disability.
- Those who have a physical disability.
- People who are shy and introverted.
- People concerned about stigma.
- Socially phobic individuals.
- People that require a more convenient arrangement.
- People that need or want to stay at home for whatever reason.
- People who find it difficult to explore or express their emotions in an in-person setting.
Whilst online methods of communication such as Email, Zoom & Vsee are encrypted, I (the practitioner) cannot guarantee the security and confidentiality of any means of online or telephone communication and I cannot be held responsible for any problems that may arise, however caused, as a result of using these methods of communication. We communicate via these mediums at our own risk. To help protect confidentiality it is good practice to use an encrypted email account, install antivirus software and make sure you are in a private place and cannot be overheard when discussing your confidential information. More details about your privacy and data can be found here.