For people living in rural or otherwise remote locations, the advantages of online counseling are obvious. In many such locations, the only alternative to online or telephone therapy is no therapy at all!
Even in urban environments, some people will have difficulty getting to a counselor’s office. People with certain physical disabilities or anxiety disorders may find that getting needed therapy in the home has significant advantages.
But there are advantages to therapy from the comfort of your home, even for those who could easily travel to a counselor’s office, if desired. Some of the advantages of the online counseling experience include:
- Increased privacy – for example, less chance of meeting someone you know in a therapist’s waiting room.
- Easy to try – Since you can, if desired, sign up for only one or two counseling sessions with an online therapist, you don’t have to worry unduly about the worth of the therapeutic experience. You can try it out, and if you like it, continue with it. If it’s not for you - well, you didn’t lose much of your time, effort or money.
- Greater convenience – Online counseling sessions do not require that you travel to an office, and so take much less of your total time. Some forms of therapy, such as email therapy, are asynchronous, and so can be done at your convenience, whenever you have the time.
- Lower cost (sometimes) – The per-session cost of online counseling can sometimes be less than the cost of an office visit. Online counselors may have reduced overhead expenses and can thus reduce their fees accordingly. Some automated counseling/education programs, such as those that use cognitive behavioral techniques to help people overcome problems like insomnia or anxiety, may even be free or very low cost – and research proves that they work!
Online counseling offers convenience, affordability and low barriers to entry. For some people, it’s exactly what’s needed; however, it is not appropriate for people in all situations. People who may not find online counseling very useful/beneficial; include:
- People in serious crisis or with serious mental illness cannot ethically be counseled remotely. A counselor must see you in person to assess you for suicidal thoughts and for danger to others
- People needing medication cannot receive prescriptions without seeing a doctor in person
- People needing insurance to cover the costs of counseling may find it very difficult to get reimbursed for online therapy
- Without access to non verbal communication, therapists may not be as able to understand your situation and your emotional reactions
Page last updated Aug 05, 2010