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Online counseling generally refers to the provision of professional mental health services concerns via internet communication technology. Often called e-therapy, etherapy, e-counseling, online therapy, or coaching, services are typically offered via email, real-time chat, and video conferencing. Some clients use online counseling in conjunction with traditional psychotherapy, and others use it as an occasional check-in tool for their lives.
Some argue that the heightened anonymity of online counseling promotes transference in the client, and is therefore ideal for psychodynamic therapy approaches. Likewise, it is ostensibly less suitable for body-based forms of therapy such as Bioenergetics.
Additional recommended knowledge
Clients typically seek out online counseling services for the same reasons that people seek professional help through traditional channels. However, online counseling may be especially appealing for individuals who are unable or unwilling to see a mental health professional in person. For example, it is potential resource for clients who are home-bound (such as the elderly or infirm) or who reside in rural areas far from a therapist's office. Online counseling can also be an option for individuals who suffer from a particular problem and wish to work with a hard-to-find expert in that issue.
Convenience is the most-often cited reason why people use online counseling services. It can be convenient for clients and counselors alike, and participants may engage in the counseling process from the comfort of their homes or offices, at times that are most convenient for them.
Confidentiality is another oft-cited benefit. Many people are uncomfortable talking about their personal problems while in the physical presence of another, and may be more likely to disclose when they cannot be seen. This effect is called disinhibition. Thus, online counseling may allow for more privacy and confidentiality that traditional counseling (provided that participants take technical precautions like email encryption, etc.
Online counseling is often touted as being less expensive then traditional in-person sessions, because both client and therapist can take their time with their responses instead of having to think quickly within a typical 30 to 45-minute traditional session (in "asynchronous" email work). Online chat sessions may also be priced lower than face-to-face (F2F) work because net-based counselors may not have the overhead costs needed to maintain an office.
A major challenge for online counseling and because there are verbal cues (or verbal behavior), signs and signals given by a client to a therapist that are missed in online counseling. Many online counselors offer the option of phone counseling or video conferencing during the chat. This enables both parties to pick up on some of the missed cues.
Another major challenge is professionalism and security. Many people can hang a virtual shingle and offer to do online counseling.
Another disadvantage is that communication on the Internet may be more vulnerable to interception than face-to-face counseling.
A 2005 University of Toronto study showed female users of a Canadian online counseling service outnumbered males four to one.
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|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Online_counseling". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|