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Can online counseling work for family therapy?

answered 12:23 AM EST, Wed December 21, 2011
Do online counselors work with several people at the same time? I have this idea that I would like to buy my brothers and me some counseling sessions as sort of a Christmas gift to us so that we can work through some issues. Our mother and father died within the last couple of years and the disagreements we had, especially as we argued about what to do with mom after dad died, have really put a lasting strain on our once close relationships. There were money issues and accusations about who was and wasn’t helping enough and a lot of stuff that got really nasty.

Is this the kind of thing that a few sessions of online counseling together might help us to resolve? I don’t expect miracles but I just want to get us back to a place where we can communicate civilly enough that we can continue to repair our relationships on our own. As it is right now, we can barely talk to each other without the recriminations and old anger and hurts coming to the surface. We all live in three different cities so it would have to be something online or over the telephone. I am not sure that my brothers are even going to be willing to participate in this but if it might work I figure it is worth a try.

Art Matthews Says...

Online counseling can take many forms including group and family therapy thanks to software applications that make video conferencing and virtual world environments possible. An experienced distance counselor will be able to prepare all parties for the experience and provide each participant with expectations and guidelines for communicating that will help overcome some of the limitations experienced in an online counseling environment. Whether or not progress can be made in a few sessions is difficult to gauge regardless of the venue. Be aware the therapists are often the victims of scams by people posing as potential clients who want to pay in advance for several sessions. The scammer later pulls out and the therapist issues a refund only to discover the check or method of payment was invalid. You may find a therapist a little leery to accept a pre-paid financial situation. Pay-as-you-go works well and avoids the hassle of having to get a refund.

Whether distance counseling will work in a family setting may be mute if all parties don't live in the same state. Counselors and therapists are licensed by the states, not by the Federal Government so they are often limited to practing only with clients who reside in their state of licensure. An ethical counselor who is concerned about retaining his/her license will not jeopardize their ability to practice by crossing jurisdictions. Make sure you ask the counnselor where they are licensed amd that everyone in the family is in that state at the time of counseling.

You can find Distance Credentialed Counselors (DCC) at http://www.cce-global.org/Pub/SearchInfo

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Page last updated Dec 21, 2011

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