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An evening spent browsing the internet, a few clicks of the mouse and a decision to give it a try – the barriers to entry/accessibility for online counseling are refreshingly low.

Online counseling expands access to therapeutic services and allows people that would otherwise never come into contact with mental health professionals get help to enhance health or wellness. Psychologists and counselors spend much of their time working with the mentally ill, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t offer assistance to people without mental illness, but who are experiencing problems or dissatisfaction in some areas of life.

People who think that they have "small" problems often don’t go to the trouble and expense of seeking counseling in a real-world environment; even though that small problem interferes with health/happiness or success.  Online counseling offers increased anonymity and convenience and generally lower cost, and can be a perfect solution for people that wouldn’t otherwise get help.

In addition to mental illness concerns, some examples of the types of situations people often seek online counseling for include:

  • Substance use/abuse – People who wonder about their drinking or drug use often find initial sessions with an online counselor beneficial – to help crystallize the situation, the options and the steps to healthier use
  • Parenting advice – Parents dealing with a difficult child/situation sometimes just need a bit of advice; a fresh pair of trained eyes – and an online counselor, with expertise in this area, can often offer some helpful insight
  • Couples therapy – experts say that although most people enter into couples therapy (marriage therapy) after a severe problem or in an attempt to reconcile, couples counseling is actually more effective when offered as a preventative measure to more serious problems down the road.
  • Divorce – Few life changes cause as much disruption as a divorce and it is normal for newly divorced men and women to struggle with one or more aspects of a new life and lifestyle. A counselor can help you sort through the emotions and new relationships of a post divorce life.
  • Grief and loss issues – getting past the death of a loved one is difficult for anyone but some people get trapped in complicated grief that never seems to get better. Talking through your grief issues with a grief and loss counselor can help you to understand if what you're feeling is normal, or whether you need more formal therapy on an ongoing basis to break free.
  • Life coaching - life coaches help people feeling "stuck" or dissatisfied in some area of life take concrete action toward creating change for the better. Some people work with a life coach on an ongoing basis to continue progress, while others find that brief interaction is enough to kick start change.
  • Dealing with illness/pain – Pain and illness counselors help people dealing with pain or illness manage their physical symptoms as well as manage the emotional consequences of illness or chronic pain. Gaining an emotional acceptance of pain can actually lessen the severity of the experience.

These are just a few of the countless issues that online counselors provide assistance with. If you know that you could use assistance in some area of your life, but know that you would never seek more traditional face-to-face counseling services, consider whether online counseling might be a good option for you.

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Page last updated Apr 06, 2011

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