Online counselling, or ‘e-counselling’ as it is often referred to, is a form of therapy that takes place over the internet. It can be conducted through email, chat, video conferencing, or other forms of online communication. It offers individuals and couples the opportunity to receive psychological support from their own home or office in a convenient and confidential manner. Online counselling has grown in popularity in recent years and is an increasingly common method of delivering mental health services. From online therapists and counsellors to virtual mindfulness classes, this type of therapy can help address a variety of issues ranging from anxiety and depression to relationship difficulties. Online counselling can be a convenient and effective way to receive counselling services, especially for those who live in remote areas or who have difficulty accessing face-to-face counselling services.
‘Health’, either physical or mental, is not a luxury item, something to be “afforded” when a society has generated enough “wealth” to pay for it’. WHO
The different types of online counselling
Online counselling comes in many different forms. Some common types of online counselling include:
-Text-based counselling: This type of counselling takes place via text message or chat. It can be a convenient way to get help if you’re not comfortable talking on the phone or in person.
-Video counselling: This type of counselling takes place over video chat. It can be a great option if you want to see your counsellor’s face and body language, but don’t want to meet in person.
-Email counselling: This type of counselling takes place via email. It can be a good option if you prefer to communicate in writing, or if you live in a different time zone from your counsellor.
-Phone counselling: This type of counselling takes place over the phone. It can be a convenient option if you prefer to talk on the phone, or if you live in a different country from your counsellor.
Pros and cons of online counselling
There are many pros and cons to online counselling. On the plus side, online counselling can be more convenient and affordable than traditional face-to-face counselling. It can also be a great way to connect with a counsellor if you live in a remote area or have transportation difficulties. online counselling offers numerous benefits such as:
- Less stigma not as shameful in ‘society’ using technology
- Saves time spent travelling
- Accessible for people in hard-to-reach areas
- Less stigma not as shameful in ‘society’ using technology
- Suitable for suffering from anxieties such as agoraphobia
- The distance is ‘safer’ for some people
- Good for people living in different locations i.e., family members, couples living apart or those who travel a lot.
On the downside, online counselling may not be as effective as traditional counselling for some people. It can also be difficult to build trust with your counsellor if you’ve never met in person. If you’re struggling with serious mental health issues, online counselling may not be right for you. Other disadvantages of online counselling include:
- Not suitable for everyone
- More serious forms of mental illness such as substance addictions, severe depression, and schizophrenia, may require more than what online sessions can provide
- Missing data like visual signals, body language however video conferencing can overcome some of these challenges
- Internet/data is expensive making it inaccessible to all people. This widens the ever-increasing gap of inequalities as it entrenches digital divide especially in low- and middle-income countries.
- Competence. Online counselling methods are not for every therapist/counsellor
- Legal Regulations complexities
What to expect from online counselling
When you receive online counselling, you can generally expect to receive the same type of counselling and therapy that you would if you saw a counsellor in person. The only difference is that everything takes place over the internet or on the phone.
Some people may feel nervous about talking to a counsellor online or on the phone, but it is actually very similar to talking to a counsellor in person. The main thing to remember is that your counselor is there to help you and they will not judge you.
If you are seeking online counseling, it is important to find a reputable source. Make sure to do your research before choosing a counselor. Once you find a good fit, online counseling can be a great way to get the help you need.
How to find a good online counsellor
If you are considering seeking out counselling or therapy services online, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to find a good fit for you. Here are some tips:
1. Do your research: Not all online counsellors or therapists are created equal. Just as with in-person practitioners, there is a wide range of quality and experience levels out there. It’s important to read reviews and/or ask for referrals from people you trust in order to find someone who is reputable and has a good track record.
2. Consider your needs: What kind of counselling or therapy do you need? There are many different types of online counsellors and therapists that focus on different issues, so it’s important to know what you’re looking for before starting your search.
3. Check credentials: As with any other type of counsellor or therapist, you’ll want to make sure the person you’re working with is properly credentialed and qualified. Ask about their education, training, and experience in order to be sure they are up to the task of helping you address your specific needs.
4. Make sure they offer what you need: In addition to being qualified, it’s important that the online counsellor or therapist you choose offers the specific services and features that you need. For example, if you require weekly check-ins, make sure they offer that option (and vice-versa)
Online counselling can be a great alternative to traditional face-to-face therapy. It has many advantages, such as allowing clients to access services from anywhere in the world, as well as providing an extra layer of privacy and confidentiality for those who may feel embarrassed discussing their issues in person. With the right therapist and an open mind, individuals can benefit greatly from this form of therapy. Whether it’s helping to work through chronic mental health issues or just finding ways to worry less about day-to-day problems, online counselling could be just what you need.