Online counseling came as a lifeboat during the pandemic. When everyone was struggling with sickness and uncertainty, online counseling offered some comfort and reassurance to people that they will be okay. Counselors practicing online provided a safe and judgment-free space to the clients where they could come and talk about the things that were bothering them at the time. When families were struggling to survive, friends were not able to meet each other, lovers were separated, and schools and colleges were shut, online counseling became the place for recuperation.
Online counseling has been around for a long time but its scope and reach kicked the roof during the pandemic. Ever since then, the online sector in counseling and therapy has only gone up. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychology Association, 96% of the psychologists who started giving online counseling during the pandemic are still continuing to conduct online sessions.
However, there is still some resistance to online counseling and therapy as people might feel that it is not as effective as offline counseling. Sure, there are some limitations to online counseling just like there are some limitations to offline counseling. Let us first understand some reasons which cause this resistance:
Network and connectivity
One reason for resistance towards online counseling is that not all places have a good internet or rather even normal connection to have a continuous conversation via audio or video without any disturbance. These connectivity issues can hold people back and push them to resort to traditional methods. However, these can be avoided by ensuring a good internet backup for video sessions and going to a comparatively wider space for audio.
Some people might be worried about the confidentiality of things they share in the session. As it is an online session, it instills a fear of being recorded or used against them. However, the ethical guidelines dictate that all data shared must remain confidential. This is one of the most basic principles of psychology that every counselor has to abide by.
Missing out on body language
During an offline session, the counselor can catch non-verbal cues and verbal cues however it gets difficult to track those cues during an online session, especially if it’s not a video session. The counselors need to gain expertise in analyzing more vocal cues like the tone, pitch, volume, and speed of speech.
Now, let us see some of the reasons why you should go for online counseling
You can consult with your counselor online from the comfort of your home. Weather, traffic, convenience, or just the task of getting there no longer has to be a barrier between you and your mental health. You can simply pick up your phone and connect with the counselor. In addition to this, people with physical limitations can also access therapy without facing extra inconvenience.
The traditional offline modes are mostly available during the corporate working hours and days which sometimes act as a limitation. However, with online counseling, counselors have flexible working hours and can schedule sessions according to their convenience.
More options for help
Along with online counseling, people can also refer to a lot of self-help materials like informative articles, self-assessment tools and worksheets, online tests recommended by the counselors, audio-visual content, and interactive exercises. These make the therapeutic process more engaging and interactive for the clients.
Security and Privacy
Online counseling can be accessed from the comfort and privacy of your home. In addition to that, to ensure that confidentiality is maintained, all the data is encrypted by online portals used for counseling ensuring that there is no misuse.
Removing the traveling cost for both, the client and the counselor is a huge incentive to opt for online counseling. In addition to that, taking an offline session also includes maintenance costs for the counselor to create that operational space for the client.
To summarize, be it online or offline counseling, there will be certain limitations to both but that should not stop you from starting your mental health journey. Your counselor will help you overcome these limitations and other shortcomings you might face in your life. We often focus on the limitations and magnify them because we are afraid to take the first step. But that fear is what makes it more important for you to take that first step.
Seeking help is a sign of courage. Don't let self-limiting beliefs hold you back from a life you deserve. Avail online therapy to become happier and better. Learn how