Face-to-face counseling can be great, and given the choice, would me my therapy of preference. But one thing that 2020 has taught us is that we can do a lot more – and a lot better- online than we previously thought. Be it via video, Whatsapp chats or other text services, the online environment is where many people ‘live’ and the golden rule in counselling is to meet the client where they are. That’s why there has been a huge growth in online wellness services since COVID.
There is evidence that online counselling might dive less deeply into action planning and goal exploration for clients – however, there is no suggestion that this must be the case. As online counselling develops, so too do the skills of the practioners. Particularly for a counsellor operating within the parameters of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, there is no reason for the interaction to be any less deep or meaningful (Chardon, Bagraith & King 2011). The medical journal The Lancet, also published a study validating claims that online cognitive behavioural therapy is just as effective in treating depression as traditional therapy.
Online counseling has a number of benefits.
There’s no travel time. You can schedule at your convenience from your home or your office. You are not going to ‘bump into someone you know’ in a waiting room. Geography doesn’t matter, there’s no receptionist and appointments can be flexible in timing and length.
Online counseling is available to those in remote locations (such as expatriate workers!) or where services in English are limited. It also makes therapy available to those with mobility issues or care roles.
Multi-faceting counseling comes into play – live meetings, texts, asynchronous email exchanges, allowing time for reflection and close attention to thoughts and feelings.
Alleman, J. R. (2002). Online counseling: The internet and mental health treatment.
Psychotherapy, 39, 199-209.
Chardon, L., Bagraith, K. S. & King, R. J. (2011) Counseling activity in single-session online counseling with adolescents: An adherence study, Psychotherapy Research, 21:5, 583-592, DOI: 10.1080/10503307.2011.592550
Rochlen, A. B., Zack, J. S., & Speyer, C. (in press). Online therapy: Review of relevant
definitions, debates, and current empirical support. Journal of Clinical