You might be wondering, “What are the advantages of online counseling?” This is a valid question. To answer, I’m going to begin with a question of my own: Did you know that only a limited number of people who are recommended by a physician to seek mental health services actually go on to receive those services?
Now, you’re probably wondering, “Why?” Is it because these people don’t want to get well, or are there other significant factors? As you probably guessed, the reasons are many. Among them is that acquiring adequate counseling services is too difficult. Consider this: A man suffering from depression must take the following steps to receive counseling…
1. Overcome his apprehension, embarrassment, and fear of seeking counseling.
This is a big obstacle in the way of many people seeking counseling. Often, they feel too embarrassed or scared to take that step and reach out and schedule that first counseling session.
2. Be okay with the possibility of people in his community finding out he is in therapy.
Many people are also fearful of what their friends and family will think of their seeking therapy, due to the stigma that still surrounds mental illness and mental health help.
3. Research reputable local counseling services.
While it’s often easy to find a local counseling services once one brings up a search engine, this just serves as another barrier and yet another step to take in receiving counseling.
4. Make contact with the service (usually via phone call) to schedule an appointment.
Once the individual finds a local service, they then have to make contact with someone at the business to schedule an appointment. Sometimes this can mean calling once and getting booked right away—other times this means being put on hold and even a waiting list.
5. Accept that (if he uses insurance) he’ll be diagnosed with a psychological disorder, which will go on his health record.
This goes back to the stigma about mental illness—many people deny their having a mental problem and certainly don’t want it on their health record. (When, of course, there is nothing wrong with having a mental health condition.)
6. Maintain motivation and courage while waiting for his scheduled appointment.
Additionally, the individual often worries every day about his appointment up until the day of his appointment—that’s a lot of waiting around with anxious feelings. A lot of times, one might have second thoughts in that time and even cancel their appointment.
7. Follow through on his intentions of showing up to the counseling session, which may require him to take time off of work.
Finally, the individual must actually follow through and make it to his appointment, after all of these obstacles. This means shaking those last insecurities and those nerves that have been threatening their path to receiving counseling.
This is a copious series of tasks, even for those struggling with simple challenges. Furthermore, counselors can’t do much to make the process easier. However, they can offer an alternative solution: online counseling. Below, you’ll find advantages of online counseling (aside from the obvious advantage that is convenience):
|Has proven to be effective over many years of research and study||New research shows eCounseling to be effective, and sometimes more effective than in-person counseling|
|Has proven to be effective for building rapport/relationship between counselor and client||New research shows eCounseling is effective for building rapport/relationship between counselor and client.|
|A client has 45-50 minutes to tell his/her story||A client has unlimited amounts of time to detail his/her story by email.|
|Persons are often seen by members of their community at the counseling office||Due to the distance of the counselor , and absence of the counseling office, social stigma is eliminated|
|Clients can seek out the best counselor in their area||Clients can look outside their area for an excellent counselor|
|Client and counselor must show up during a designated time and at a designated location||Client and counselor do not meet at a designated place, and sometimes there is no designated time|
|Rates can be expensive, especially in urban areas||Clients benefit from lower overhead costs of counselors|
|Usually takes place during business hours: 9-5, Monday-Friday||Has potential for extended and flexible hours|
|Is difficult for the sick or immobile||Is accessible to homebound and ailing persons|
|There is risk of counselor sexual or social misconduct||There is less potential for counselor sexual or social misconduct|
|Are often client waiting lists||A counselor is always available|
|A counselor might not be experienced with the client’s presenting problem||Clients can search far and wide for a counselor experienced with their problem issues|
|Counselor may not be knowledgeable of the client’s ethnicity or language||Clients can select a counselor knowledgeable of their ethnicity and language|
|Client needs to overcome their apprehensions and fears of seeking counseling||Feeling more anonymous, clients with apprehensions and fears are more likely to seek counseling|
|Is ideal for clients who communicate well verbally||Is ideal for clients who communicate well verbally or by writing|
|Clients commit time to commuting, and often the ‘waiting room’ experience||Client time is spent on counseling issues|
|Clients feel an empty space between sessions||With email, there is no “end” to a conversation, so clients feel continually in dialog with their counselor|
|Clients may be intimidated by the counselor||Clients are less likely to feel intimidated by the counselor|
|Clients may forget their feelings, resolutions, and commitments spoken in session||Clients are able to save writings regarding their feelings, resolutions, and commitments|
|Clients might forget a counselor’s guidance and advice||Clients are able to save counselor’s guidance and advice, if it is in writing|
|Clients might not see clearly their progress||Saved text is a testament to a client’s treatment progress|