What is Online Counselling?
Online counselling is when you and your online psychologist engage in a therapeutic conversation over the internet. This can take place in synchronous communication (in real time) via chat rooms (also called Instant Messaging or IM) or Skype or in asynchronous communication (not real time) via email exchanges.The session process in online counselling is very similar to face to face counselling. Your counsellor will ask you about your concerns, will listen to you and will assist you and support you in finding strategies to manage your situation.
A session via Skype or Messenger lasts 50 minutes. In email exchanges (usually 3 sets of email exchange), you can explain your situation, raise your concerns and ask questions and your counsellor will respond to your email within 2 working days.
What are the Benefits and Limitations of Online Counselling
It is convenient, flexible, accessible, cost effective and particularly beneficial for those who have busy lives, live in remote areas where there is no access to services or who cannot travel to see a psychologist because of illness, disability or caring for children or a family member.
If you are not comfortable with face to face counselling and prefer remaining anonymous, this may be a good option for you as you get to experience the therapeutic process and relationship in the same way you normally would with face to face counselling.
Skype is ideal for those who are comfortable and prefer expressing themselves through talking. If writing is your preferred mode of expression, then email exchange and Messenger are for you. Also the advantage with email is that you can take your time to reflect on the therapeutic process and review your progress
Technology is not perfect and technical problems may sometimes delay the process. You also must be comfortable with using the internet and be able to type reasonably fast.
It is more difficult for your therapist to read people's feelings, emotions and tone of voice as body language, non-verbal and communication cues which are normally available in a face to face encounter, are absent in an online exchange. This can often been remedied by using emoticons (feeling faces) and other forms of net language.
You need a computer with a webcam and a fairly fast, preferably broadband internet connection (cable or dial up). You must be comfortable with text-based communication such as MSN chat, online forums and email exchange. If Skype is your preferred mode of communication, you need to download and register with Skype (it is easy to do and free of charge).
Technical difficulties and delays such as a session drop-out may occur. In such circumstance, I will email or call you to determine what the problem may be. Time lost will be made up. If connection is not possible on the day, we will postpone to another suitable time.
When is Online Counselling not Suitable?
Online counselling is not suitable if:
You are in crisis
You are suicidal
Your personal safety is a concern
You suffer from a mental illness and you are under psychiatric and medication treatment
You are under 16 years of age
Lifeline 13 11 14
24 hour Domestic Violence Crisis Line 1800 656 463
Kids Help Line 1800 551 800