What is Online Counselling?

Online counselling is all clinical consultations and services that are done via telephone and various internet – assisted modalities (text, email, chat and video conferencing).

In a post Covid-19 world more  people will seek online services were possible, online therapy may be one of those services.

With the discovery of internet, communications have been revolutionised and basic tenets of human relationships have been intensified, broadened, and challenged.

It is with this in mind that that the 21st century counsellor/ therapist is being ‘forced’ to look at their profession, its relevance today as it tries to adapt at the interface of culture and technology.

‘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

 

Benefits Of Online Counselling

Tele-mental health has a positive growing body of research in its effectiveness. It offers numerous benefits such as:

  • Affordability
  • 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.

The benefits are numerous and the above list is not exhaustive. The is however still criticism and/ or grey areas around  the impact and effectiveness of online counselling.

Criticism To Online Counselling

  • 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.

Conclusion

Online counselling is a growing and evolving industry with platforms such as Headroom and Psychology Today among others offering secure platforms for therapists to safely run an online practice.

Rapid advancement in  technology and natural pandemics like the recent COVID-19 will continue to have significant impact on people, culture and society and in-turn how society will choose to seek therapy.

If you are struggling and need to speak to someone, please contact Abantulives, support is ALWAYS within reach

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