Is On-line Counselling right for you?
Due to our ever-changing world, technology and our own lifestyles, the practise of counselling has also had to evolve. Online counselling provides the client with an alternative to face-2-face (meeting in the therapist’s office) by working from your computer using the internet.
Usually counselling begins when the client chooses an online counsellor by locating them through an association (eg. Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association https://www.ccpa-accp.ca/) or from a website, liking what they see/read, and then sends the therapist an email. The online counsellor generally will reply within 2-3 business days with: information detailing about process; a pre-counselling agreement similar to face-2-face agreements; and how best the two of you can work together.
With any counselling, face-2-face or online (including confidential email, video or phone conferencing), the relationship between a client and a counsellor is the base for moving forward – where the client feels comfortable with whom they are working. This relationship is extremely important for an effective outcome. During this time, the client is able to ask questions and to seek clarification – your counsellor will be happy to answer.
Online email counselling allows even those who feel that they are technologically challenged – all that is needed is a computer, access to the internet, privacy to write (strongly recommended that one uses your own personal computer, to ensure security) and to read your emails.
Reasons for choosing Online Email Counselling vs. Face-2-Face Counselling
Convenience – writing your story can be done when you are ready – no appointment is needed. Online counselling adapts to your lifestyle, allowing you to write when time that works for you at a time that suits you! Allows greater access to counselling if you are housebound or living in a rural community.
Flexibility – allows you the time to write – place your emails in draft, look at them later, edit and reflect, make changes if needed – online allows you the time to tell your story. In face-2-face counselling, you sometimes forget the most important details because you are working in the “moment” and only remember these concerns after the session is over.
Safer for some people – removes some of the anxiety you may feel, no need to worry about missing a face-2-face appointment. Others may feel safer writing rather than speaking to a counsellor because they may have possible physical disabilities (eg. deafness, stuttering, wheelchair bound) that they may feel inhibits face-2-face counselling.
Sometimes a person may feel that their grief is less than another person’s grief “my loss isn’t as important or as great as yours” – such as disenfranchised grief – online counselling helps to remove this perceived guilt.
Increased anonymity and privacy – no one has to know you are seeing a counsellor – no need to worry that someone will see you walking into a counselling office.
Record of discussion – perfect for reflection, which can often help you to find solutions to your issues – like a personal journal! Re-reading can clarify things, remind you of what’s been discussed, or of any tasks you might have agreed to do and sometimes your letters may bring meaning much later on. In face-2-face, you have to depend on your recollection about the session.
Time – anytime, anywhere, when the time suits you – IMPORTANT – make sure your site and your computer is secure!
“Doing it for yourself” – Writing, reflecting, and revising your story gives you the control and ownership over your own healing. The actual process of placing your thoughts into words, through email, is a powerful step towards standing back and examining things more closely, from a new and different perspective.
Video & Phone Conferencing
Video Conferencing – Video conference counselling is a form of online counselling that most closely resembles a face-to-face session. With video conference counselling, both the counsellor and client are able to view each other by use of an Internet video camera (i.e., webcam,).
Phone Conferencing – Access to a phone, preferably a cell phone – as one can move to a private area in the home and using headphones that can minimize background noise.
Working together in video/phone conferencing can be just as powerful and engaging as sitting together face to face in a counseling office, however, unlike online email conferencing an appointment must be made.
Reasons for NOT choosing Online Counselling
Online counselling is not for everyone and not for every situation:
- If you are at risk of committing suicide or have suicidal ideations or of violence (hurting someone else and/or yourself) please contact your physician or 911 immediately or proceed to your nearest hospital emergency. Face-2-Face counselling in your community is highly recommended.
- If you have been diagnosed with a mental health issue (eg. eating disorder, psychosis, or are under specific medical treatment) or if you are experiencing Chronic Grief – face-2-face counselling is recommended.
- Responses in online counselling, usually occurs within 2-3 business days – therefore, there isn’t an immediate reply, and could be especially troublesome for those with overwhelming and unmanageable feelings and emotions.
- You are under the age of 19 years – please contact your school counsellor, reach out to one of the services provided in your community or contact one of the help lines listed below.
Resources for Those in NEED of Immediate Assistance
Crisis Line 1-888-353-CARE (2273)
Suicide Distress Line 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
VictimLINK (24 hours) 1-800-563-0808
Operator “0” to ask for support in connecting to a help line in your area
Kid’s Help Phone – phone 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT (686868)
Local Emergency numbers located in the front pages of your telephone book or through computer search