Today, more and more people are seeking online counseling as an alternative to in-person one-on-one therapy. If you are considering any form of counseling online, here are a list of pros and cons that may help you decide if the online route is the way to go. Before considering any form of counseling, make sure to do your research to ensure that you are comfortable with your chosen counselor/therapist before electing to consent to any long-term counseling sessions. All forms of online counseling or therapy should always remain confidential, between you and the professional.
Online counseling, which is essentially accessed from the internet, and from the convenience of home, or anywhere for that matter, affords the luxury of time flexibility as many online counselors or therapists work various hours throughout the day, and can schedule sessions more around your own availability. Also, since communication also takes place via email, you can contact your counselor/therapist as as much as you like in between live chat or phone sessions.
Option to Email, Web Chat & Phone
These primary luxuries of online counseling can be beneficial to anyone who may be shy or less willing to share certain information in person. By having the email, web chat and phone option, clients can decide exactly what they would like to communicate without the anxiety that some direct person-to-person contact may bring. Also, this factor is very helpful for individuals who are seeking counseling for the first time, and may not feel completely comfortable seeing someone in person just yet. This gives clients the opportunity to assess if counseling is right for them, and if so, they may even opt to try traditional walk-in counseling.
Some clients seeking online counseling find that the online experience is even more private because they are not physically going into therapy, and they feel that they have better control over what is being shared as opposed to being in a person-to-person live session. Clients also have the option to be anonymous.
More Options to Choose From
As online counseling grows, there are more and more sites and resources to choose from, thus more professionals to choose from. Clients have the option to change counselors/therapist more frequently, if needed, and can also screen multiple therapists/counselors at a time for approval.
Online counseling also permits more affordable options, while naturally, saving you the money that would take to travel to and from an office.
Access Records through Email
Through email, you can also keep a record of correspondance between your counselor/therapist as well as take your time in writing to think about what is being said. This allows you to recover old advice and conversations with the counselor. Clients may also be more willing to implement that advice. This is similar to the benefit process of journaling for personal progression.
Confidentiality May Be Compromised
Although confidentiality is required between counselor/therapist and client within any counseling session, online visibility does have its risks. Information can not always be completely confidential if emails are visible to other third parties and such.
Lack of One-On-One Contact
The lack of personal contact can have its disadvantages as the counselor/therapist may not be able to read certain cues which affords them greater discernment of each client's state of mind or emotion. Although, this is not always an issue, it can still be somewhat restrictive. Also, and this is a matter of judgement, individuals seeking counseling may feel that the online approach lacks the genuine essence of interpersonal interaction that you can get and maintain through personal contact with an individual. Sometimes the distance can be a factor, and they fill it limits the effectiveness or quality of interaction by confiding in someone that they have never met in person.
Requires A Computer & Internet
Although this is obvious, it may also be a hinderance for some clients who are not comfortable with computers or do not have consistent internet access.
Not the Best Route For Clients with Mental Illness
For severe cases, online counseling may not be recommended for those diagnosed with extreme mental illness.
As you can see, there are more benefits than there are disadvantages to online counseling, but ultimately, you should be the judge of what works for you. Just keep in mind, that confidentiality, being comfortable, and speaking with someone that can help you with your particular concerns, are all key requirements to seeking and benefiting from any therapy.
I am an online Creative Wellness Consultant specializing in Holistic Healing, Stress Management, Creative Arts & Writing, and Personal Development.
© 2011 Latasha N. Woods