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Online treatment is developing and becoming more popular, particularly among the younger generation, who see it as a lifeline. This practice is defined as '...professional counseling that occurs when a client and counselor are in separate remote locations and use computer-mediated communication to communicate with each other' in the article Online Counselling: a descriptive analysis of therapy services on the Internet (Chester, & Glass, 2006). This type of counseling is also known as e-counseling or tele-counseling. People are increasingly turning to internet counseling in place of traditional counseling. There are further advantages to online counseling, which are mentioned more below.
Online counseling is convenient and available at any time and place. It is advantageous to those people living in rural areas and lack accessibility to counseling services. Online counseling is also beneficial to people with disability (Mackinnon, Griffiths, & Christensen, 2008). These people will access counseling services at their homes with less difficulty. To those with hearing and visual impairments are also considered. This brings equity at services provided and all groups can access counseling services with ease.
Online counseling has also encouraged teenagers and children to access the counseling program because this group have more access and ease to the internet and can receive the online therapy at any time they are connected to the internet. Virtual therapy helps saves on time for both the client and therapist. With virtual therapy, the client needs not to walk to the counseling center and this saves time (Gackenbach, 2007). It also helps to save the time of waiting for the therapist where maybe there are more clients and one therapist. It saves time also for the therapist because the therapist needs not to commute to the counseling centers to offer services.
Virtual counseling reduces stigmatization of clients this is because a client can seek counsel at his or her home privately through the computer. It is not like going to counseling centers and be seen by other people at waiting rooms (Andersson, & Titov, 2014) is makes the client fear the risk of being stigmatized but with online therapy, it is confidential services.
Online therapy there is no face to face services and this leads to anonymity which more clients feel comfortable with because the therapist cannot see the race gender or even physical appearance of the client (Musiat, Goldstone, & Tarrier, 2014). Anonymity brought by online counseling clients can be more open and this leads to high level of honesty from the client and this helps the therapist to know the exact problem with the client.
Virtual counseling is convenient for both the client and therapist because the two groups have the ability to correspond to one another at variant times. This type of therapy saves the struggle of scheduling and booking appointment for the client (Farrer, Griffiths, Christensen, Mackinnon, & Batterham, 2013). It also helps the therapist to serve more clients because it reaches vast geographical region due to appointments scheduled over 24 hours.
This online therapy is affordable for both the client and therapist. To the client, it lowers the cost of traveling to the counseling centers. It also lowers the cost for booking appointments and also getting services with online therapy it is cheaper. It is affordable to the therapist because other therapists are not able to afford or just not willing to pay rent of the business enterprise where the counseling services will be offered (Andersson, & Titov, 2014). With online therapy it helps the therapist with offering the services through the web and no space is needed. It also assists the therapist to lower the cost of starting capital and even commuting cost. This is cheaper compared to traditional counseling.
Online therapy has different ways of communication this allows the client and therapist to think more deeply and reflect on their feelings before expressing them. It is done through writing either emails or when in chat rooms. It is more suitable compared to traditional way of counseling services where one can say something before thinking critically and this may lead to inconvenience (Gackenbach, 2007). The traditional way was also unsuitable because the client could see the non-verbal cues of his or her therapist and may induce fear to the client to express the problem clearly. Through online therapy, the client writes all his or her distress and this is one step to emotional healing because he or she expresses all his fears, problems and distress without hiding anything.
Virtual therapy the client is able to meet many therapists also who are professional and licensed and example of the online therapy platform is Betterhelp in this site they are more than 2000 professional therapists (A Mackinnon , KM Griffiths, H Christensen, 2008). Through online therapy, clients can change their counselors if someone is not happy with his or her work like in the Betterhelp site this is offered. Online therapy there is where you can give feedback about services offered and this can be able to make the therapist improve his services and also get motivated and offer more good and reliable services.
In addition to that online therapy offers a library section in their sites like Betterhelp where a client can be able to learn about different types of stressful situations and the site gives guides of the symptoms for example anxiety or eating disorders (Gackenbach, 2007). This service is entirely free.
All these advantages promote more people to like online therapy and this has led to its increasing growth over time. It is likely that it will replace conventional methods soon.
Chester, A., & Glass, C. (2006). Online counselling: a descriptive analysis of therapy services on the Internet. Taylor & Francis Online. Retrieved 9 April 2017, from http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080%2F03069880600583170
Mackinnon, A., Griffiths, K., & Christensen, H. (2008). Comparative randomised trial of online cognitive-behavioural therapy and an information website for depression: 12-month outcomes. The British Journal Of Psychiatry, 192(2), 130-134. http://dx.doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.106.032078
Gackenbach, J. (2007). Psychology and the Internet: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, and Transpersonal Implications (1st ed., pp. 77-109). San Diego: Academic Press.
Andersson, G., & Titov, N. (2014). Advantages and limitations of Internet-based interventions for common mental disorders. World Psychiatry, 13(1), 4-11. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/wps.20083
Musiat, P., Goldstone, P., & Tarrier, N. (2014). Understanding the acceptability of e-mental health - attitudes and expectations towards computerised self-help treatments for mental health problems. BMC Psychiatry, 14(1). http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-244x-14-109
Farrer, L., Griffiths, K., Christensen, H., Mackinnon, A., & Batterham, P. (2013). Predictors of Adherence and Outcome in Internet-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy Delivered in a Telephone Counseling Setting. Cognitive Therapy And Research, 38(3), 358-367. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10608-013-9589-1
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