Online counseling increases availability of the counseling services tailored to the demands of a modern lifestyle. This is a special modality of providing counseling via email, mobile applications, video calls and similar services that facilitate online communication. Concerning the evaluation of effects of online counseling in relation to the classical modality, the findings indicate that there is no significant difference in the client feedback when talking about the type of difficulty, satisfaction with the outcome of counseling, goals achieved, number of sessions required, etc. (Barak et al. 2008). The similar findings derive from the studies that surveyed the quality of a relationship with a counselor in the classical and digital environments (Hedman et al., 2012). Therefore, there is no fear that the online service would be of inferior quality.
- saving the time needed to prepare, go to and return from a counseling location
- less demanding to organize in case of the parents with young children, or in case of taking care of a seriously ill and / or a family member with limited mobility
- greater flexibility in terms of the time and appointments the psychotherapist can offer
- offers the possibility of counseling or psychotherapy in your native language, if you live abroad
- communication takes place from the safety and privacy of your home
- in case you are often on-the-go because of your job requirements, online counseling facilitates the coordination of sessions, because you can log in to a session from any place having access to the internet
- people who are already accustomed to the digital environment and / or have difficulties in personal contact, this can be the optimal choice to start counseling
- in the event you are injured, temporarily or permanently prevented from leaving your home or working space, online counseling can be one of the solutions, if needed
...and potential challenges and disadvantages
- it is necessary to provide a peaceful place where you will not be interrupted, which is sometimes difficult to organize
- some people point out that it took them longer to get used to the video call service as a place where they can feel comfortable to share sensitive personal information
- there is no direct personal contact and touch in the context of therapeutic relations and interventions
- some people worry about the confidentiality of information, i.e. data protection and recording. Most video services used in online counseling such as e.g. Skype, are protected through AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), and there is little likelihood of monitoring and compromising the privacy of video calls
- the risk of technical difficulties, such as losing the internet connection signal and the like, which can undermine the flow and quality of communication
- online communication may hamper the perception of some non-verbal social signs, so it is advisable in that case to seek additional feedback during the session
And in the end…
The potential and modalities of providing online counseling services are rapidly evolving, from various specialized forums, blogs, mobile applications, chatbots and online games - the possibilities are wider and more exciting. The development of technology made possible for everyone to have access to psychotherapy and counseling, and for the same to adapt to the most diverse needs, but it has also opened up new issues.
If the article encouraged you to think more about this possibility, feel free to contact us with suggestions and queries. We are available live, but also online.
Hedman et al. (2012). Cognitive behavioral therapy via the Internet: a systematic review of applications, clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness. Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research, 12 (6), 745-764.
Barak et al. (2008). A Comprehensive Review and a Meta-Analysis of the Effectiveness of Internet-Based Psychotherapeutic Interventions. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 26 (2-4), 109-160.