The pros and cons of Online Counselling
There are many attempts of one person trying to help another. Many secular and Christian approaches of counselling and ministry.
It is often very difficult to differentiate between the different approaches in order to decide which approach might be best for your own situation and area of need. In our modern and sophisticated societies it has become increasingly difficult to discover the right avenue of help. We all fall in danger of growing in knowledge but lacking in love. There is a saying; “hurting people, hurts people” and “a lack of love creates broken people and only Love can put them back together again.” This Love can surely come to us in many different forms and through different mediums.
Cons of online counselling:
Difficulty with the medium of technology:
During a Skype interview the person can feel distant from the facilitator and some of the non-verbal nuances and can be lost during the conversation. However, with the technological progress that was made over the last years using a medium like Skype enable us to pick up on many of the nonverbal clues. Many people have also become familiar with technology these days and actually feel less nervous and more comfortable and able to build rapport with a counsellor from within their own home rather than leaving their environment and having to approach someone in an unfamiliar clinical office. If both client and recipient ensure that they are not disturbed during the session and are speaking from a confidential environment many people find it easier to open up to a person on a screen than in real life. Some people however struggle with technology and might find the computer screen cold and “fake” and hence find it difficult to be real with the facilitator.
Confidentiality and Security:
There might be a breach in confidentiality if the conversation on either side is not conducted within a private enough setting (for example using the Wifi at your office or within hearing distance of another person). Using mediums like email and some chat-rooms that are not secured might also place confidentiality at risk. However even Skype video are secured these days and for those who want to ensure the conversation is 100% confidential one can use sites like doxy.me that provides a secure platform for doctors and other professionals providing online medical services.
Technology might be an inappropriate medium to pick up severe disorders like chronic depression or psychosis. Then again someone might also miss such diagnoses even in face to face interactions. The risks run both ways and as long as both client and therapist are aware of the limitations of online counselling then online counselling can surely become a great support to most people.
With laws differing from country to country and state to state one might run into ethical issues that might be unaware to the facilitator and taken for granted by the counselee. Hence it is important to understand the qualifications of the therapist and be fully informed as to the efficacy and references of the person providing therapy online.
Pros of online counselling:
Accessibility and Convenience:
A great percentage of people have access to smart phones and many people can get within reach of technology more easily than finding their way to the office of a professional. The sheer convenience of knowing you can Skype at an hour when it is most convenient to you might be the factor in why more and more people favour Online counselling above traditional face to face consultations.
Online counselling cut out many costs in terms of travelling and overhead costs like hiring an office. Therefor professional online services can very often be rendered at a much reduced rate making it more affordable to both parties involved.
Due to the stigma that is sometimes still associated with needing the help of a psychologist or social worker many people find it simply easier to go online and Skype than to sit in the waiting room of a professional.
Some people prefer not to be seen while they are being counselled and hence they can turn off the video feed at any point and move into audio only; hence the control they have during these awkward moments or even the whole session leads them to choose online ministry above face to face counselling.
In general choosing the right online counsellor might be equally as difficult as choosing the right non-cyber counsellor. Therefor choosing a counsellor who reveals his/her credentials, is open about the approach he/she uses and comes with testimonials and high recommendations might be the best option to follow irrespective of the medium through which the counselling/ministry is accessed.