Online counseling, also known as online therapy or e-therapy, gives patients a more affordable and convenient way to seek help.
Traditional therapy requires that patients make one or more appointments with a licensed counselor each week and attend sessions that last between 45 to 60 minutes or more.
Those with busy schedules, patients who do not have transportation and those with small children at home may find that e-therapy is a better option for them than traditional counseling sessions.
What is Online Counseling?
Online therapy is essentially a type of counseling that takes place over a computer. The basic version of this therapy only requires an Internet connection and a chat app or program. Patients never see their counselors, and the counselors cannot see their patients. The counselor begins with a series of short questions that let the patient explain his or her problem and the things going on in his or her life. They slowly form a relationship that lets the counselor dig a little deeper and learn more about the patient before helping him or her find any solutions.
While some counselors still rely on the old traditional form of e-therapy, more and more counselors now rely on video conferencing and video chats. According to Jan Hoffman at the New York Times, patients can now use Skype and similar programs to connect with their counselors. This offers patients more flexibility than they had with other methods. They can download Skype and other programs and use those programs right from their smartphones. This lets them make appointments during their breaks from work or while the kids are asleep. There are several websites where users can go, create an account and choose a therapist. They can then enter their payment information and make a first appointment.
Will it Work for You?
The effectiveness of e-therapy really depends on your willingness to seek help and work with a therapist. You must feel comfortable using different types of technology and talking with a stranger about your thoughts and feelings. E-therapy is also a good option for those who cannot attend face to face appointments. If you barely have time to get ready in the morning, this might be a good choice for you. You must also commit to working with a therapist for a long period of time and realize that it isn't a short term fix for your problems.
Signs You Need a Traditional Counselor
While online sessions with a counselor can help some, others may find that they're better off with a traditional therapist. The biggest problem that some face is time management. They assume that they can start the session late or leave early, but most therapists require that you commit to the same time slot or session each week. Those with serious emotional problems are better off with traditional therapists as well. An online therapist may not offer the support that can someone with schizophrenia or someone dealing with serious depression that causes thoughts of suicide.
Online counselors give patients the flexibility to make appointments and use Skype, the Internet and various programs to talk about their feelings and get emotional support. Online therapy works best when you need a small amount of help and feel comfortable talking online and in videos, but online counseling may not be as effective for all patients.