Does online counselling work?
Obviously, I’m going to say it works as it’s a service I offer but I wanted to back up my opinion for those who aren’t too sure.
Research into online counselling (some conducted by the NHS) has found it to be as effective in reducing symptoms as therapy delivered face-to-face by a counsellor.
Studies have also found that instant messaging and video chat can result in client satisfaction with therapy that is similar to levels of satisfaction with face-to-face therapy.
Other findings include:
- Online therapy is convenient, as you have the opportunity of having sessions at different times each week to fit around their plans.
- It is easily accessible and it helps to overcome barriers that may prevent you from seeking therapy. For example, people who live with poor health or social phobias.
- Anonymity reduces any feelings of judgement for having counselling.
- The lack of face-to-face contact can also be encouraging to speak more openly without feeling judged. The physical distance created by not being together in sessions creates a level of 'invisibility' that can be disinhibiting.
- Online counselling through instant messaging allows you to pay closer attention to your words and reflect on your thoughts and feelings before expressing them.
- Technology issues like computers crashing or internet connections dropping can interrupt the session. However, I work around this by agreeing a backup plan with clients to make sure that if we lose connection we know how to get back in touch.
Smartphones, tablets and
computers are increasing the access to online counselling and I think that although technology is not always a replacement for face-to-face counselling, it does offer increased choice and flexibility for people looking for support.