Online / Virtual Counselling
Some of the most common benefits associated with online/virtual counselling are:
Online/Virtual counselling is easily accessible to all those who wish to use it. Online/virtual counselling overcomes barriers that may preclude others from seeking therapy. For example, individuals residing in rural or remote areas where there are no counselling services can benefit from the accessibility of online/virtual counselling. Those that are physically disabled or unable to leave their home can also easily access such services with little inconvenience. Those that have visual and hearing impairments can also benefit from such services.
Online/virtual counselling is convenient. Both the therapist and the client have the convenience of corresponding with each other at a range of variant times. Those what are working full-time, they have very little personal time set aside for counselling, they can receive help after their work hours. For those individuals who are ambivalent about therapy or who may be uncomfortable with traditional models of therapy, may find online/virtual counselling more suitable whereby it has been found that online/virtual counselling is preferred by those who are uncomfortable with talking face to face with someone about their problems.
Online/virtual counselling may also be effective in reducing social stigma associated with receiving therapy. For those who are uncomfortable with receiving therapy, online/virtual counselling allows access to such services in private without having to visit the counselling centre. Because of this, online/virtual counselling clearly does offer the client a degree of anonymity that may reduce such social stigma and therefore prompt them to seek assistance when they might otherwise have hesitated.
While on one hand, the benefits of online/virtual counselling have been considered, online/virtual counselling is also limited in terms of its absence of verbal and nonverbal cues, difficulties in maintaining confidentiality and security, overall effectiveness, and technological difficulties.
Online/virtual counselling clearly does pose some unique problems and also some unique possibilities for both the clients and the therapists. As such, both mental health practitioners and individuals who wish to engage in such services must be informed of both the benefits and limitations of this style of therapeutic approach.