People who struggle with mental health issues are encouraged to undergo counseling. Counseling is a process of guiding individuals or groups to better mental health and wellness with the help of a professional. It is a collaborative process involving the counselor and his/her clients.
“We all experience obstacles in life that keep us from feeling and being whole. Many have found counseling as a way to invest in themselves, their relationships, or their families in order to support a better or new meaning on life.” –Ryan Mebust – LMFT
During counseling, participants are encouraged to tell their story and talk about their feelings. In response, the counselor helps the participant understand their emotions. He/She also set goals that will better the state of the participant’s well-being.
“Counseling is an empowering process in which people take responsibility for and control over their lives.” Brittany N. Murphy, PHD, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH said. Counseling takes place in several sessions and is supposed to be completely confidential. That means that all information discussed should stay between the client or clients and their counselor.
Recently, online counseling has become a choice for those with mental health issues. The internet has allowed for this new avenue for mental health support. However, this comes with its own set of pros and cons. This article will delve into the upsides and downsides of online counseling.
- Online counseling is a good option for people who live in far-flung places.
Some rural or remote areas might not have institutions that offer mental health support services. Instead of traveling to the nearest city for every consultation, one can opt for online counseling. The key is a decent WiFi connection and a device that can access the internet. However, “This kind of effort takes a fair amount of commitment and understanding of the online world.” A reminder from John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
- It’s good for those with busy schedules or physical limitations.
If you’re working or have family obligations, online counseling is an option. The same goes if you have a condition that makes mobility difficult. It is convenient and comfortable because you don’t have to leave the house for your consultation.
- There are many ways the client and counselor can communicate.
The client is given many choices in terms of communication. You can talk using the written medium via emails or chat rooms. You can also choose to call your counselor or reach them via video chat. It makes it easier for the client because they get to choose the means of communication that they’re very much comfortable.
- Anonymity can be guaranteed.
If communication is through emails or chat rooms, there is less concern for bias. Everyone has preferences, including counselors, and this can stem from stereotyping based on age, race, gender, or physical appearance. With the fear of being stereotyped out of the way, the client can be more open with the counselor.
- It makes information more accessible.
Since contact with counselors becomes available online, the knowledge they have in mental health becomes more accessible. It ensures that information on mental health is present, even in the more rural and remote areas.
- Technical difficulties can be a problem.
If you have bad internet or an old device, communication with your counselor can become difficult. You might spend more time configuring your microphone or fixing your internet router than actually talking about what you feel.
- The credibility of the counselor is questionable.
Various websites offer online counseling services, but licensed professionals manage not all of them. Some might be amateurs or inexperienced individuals who only claim to be counselors.
- The counselor does not see the nonverbal cues.
Counselors rely on what their client is saying as well as their physical responses. It helps them pinpoint how you feel. If you communicate with your counselor through email or in chat rooms, you will get rid of this.
- There are concerns regarding privacy and confidentiality.
By undergoing counseling through the internet, the content of your sessions become accessible online. These records won’t be easy to access, but a skilled hacker can get to them. It is a threat to the security of your files.
- The effectiveness of the practice is questionable.
Without any face-to-face interaction, many are beginning to question the efficacy of online counseling. Whether it can help in diagnosing patients is still up for debate.
These are only some of the pros and cons of online counseling. Keep these in mind when choosing between traditional counseling and online counseling. Both are sure to be helpful, but which one works better for you? Only you can answer that question.
The internet is not only an avenue for reconnecting with people and sharing funny content. It has now become a place where those in need of mental health support can seek professional help.