What is online therapy?
Online counselling covers a wide range of mediums, offering the same level of support and confidentiality as face-to-face sessions with qualified counsellors or therapists, it’s been around for a while and has only grown in popularity in recent years.
Providing access to qualified experts who may be further away from you, often at more convenient times to suit your schedule, online therapy can take place anywhere with a steady internet connection. At present, our therapists offer the following online services:
- Telephone counselling
- Video counselling
What does online therapy involve and what should I expect?
When you start with a new therapist, there is typically a consultation session before you begin. This provides time to get to know the counsellor a little better, ask questions, and raise any concerns you may have. Typically, your therapist will ask what you hope to get out of therapy or why you are looking to talk to a counsellor and ask a little background information about you.
During this time, guidelines and expectations will be set around communications, response times (if using a message-based option), fees, as well as privacy and confidentiality.
Telephone counselling – taking place over your phone, some counsellors offer this in addition to face-to-face sessions, while others offer it as an option by itself. As with typical counselling session, appointments are pre-scheduled for set times in which you or your therapist will call to speak for a pre-determined length of time.
Video counselling – offering many of the benefits of face-to-face counselling with the added convenience of online therapy, video chat sessions tend to use a secure platform or app chosen by your therapist. Combining visual and audio feedback, some feel that conversations can flow more organically through video chat sessions compared to instant messaging or email sessions.
Reasons people choose online therapy can include:
Accessibility – popular appointment times (evenings and weekends) can book up fast with some counsellors, as these hours can be in high demand. Online counselling may offer more flexibility and shorter waiting times to speak to a qualified counsellor, making it easier for you to gain support when you need it.
For those who may have mobility issues or disabilities that make it stressful or challenging to get to their therapists’ office, online counselling can help overcome some of these barriers. Those experiencing social phobias, anxiety disorders, or agoraphobia may also find online counselling is more accessible.
Convenience – access support from the comfort of your own home (or wherever you are), without the inconvenience of having to physically travel to your counsellor. This can not only save time and money, but can also let those living in more rural areas access qualified experts from further afield. In addition to this, many therapists offer extended office hours for online sessions, while forms such as email therapy allow you to send your thoughts at a time that works best for you.
Openness – some people feel more comfortable opening up and discussion sensitive issues through the buffer provided by a screen or phone. For those who may feel particularly nervous or anxious during face-to-face counselling sessions, online therapy can offer an alternative means of support.
Privacy – for those who are worried about others finding out about their treatment, online counselling can feel like it offers a higher level of privacy. Fitting seamlessly into your schedule without the need to block out more time to go and physically visit a therapist, some like the feeling of anonymity that they may feel by communicating through screens.
Is online therapy right for me?
If you are thinking about speaking to a counsellor or therapist, it is always worth exploring the different options available to you. It can be worth considering your own unique situation and what you hope to get out of counselling.
If there are any particular barriers that may make face-to-face counselling more challenging, daunting, or hard to access, considering alternative options such as email or video counselling can be good alternatives.
It’s important to find your own comfort zone. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. Remember: it’s ok to start with one method or therapist and to switch to an alternative if you don’t feel comfortable or as though things are working out for you. It’s about making sure that you find a method of communication that works best for you.
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