Going to see a counsellor can feel like a big step to take. A few hurdles while making up your mind to visit a counsellor may be:
- Many people have never been to see one and have no idea what to expect.
- You may not know where to go or whom to choose; and
- the thought that other people may be aware you are visiting a therapist can make the whole thing even more daunting because you want to be seen as ‘different’
Some people face further obstacles:
- they may suffer from a disability which makes them less mobile;
- they may live in a rural area without easy access to a counsellor;
- some work long hours and have little time to spare out of a busy schedule; others may already be working face-to-face with a counsellor but find that their work occasionally takes them away from home, thus interrupting their therapy.
Now there is an alternative! Thanks to the Internet, distance is no barrier and it is possible to link up with counsellors all over the world and to work with them wherever you are. The Hope Network is a new and exciting service which enables you to benefit from free or low-cost therapy without even leaving your home.
Did you know that the online chat that used to connect you to your friends all over the world, can now be your friend to bring you closer to advice about your life’s problems? Yes, chat and video-chat are now newly explored and very effective modes of counseling.
Benefits of counselling
These are a few benefits of counselling through online chat:
- Programs such as Skype make it easy to access counsellors anywhere via your computer and offer different ways of communicating.
- Working online is also a convenient way of having an initial, exploratory session with a counsellor to see whether you are compatible and can work together. Some clients who have worked online have described feeling less intimidated than they might have done in more traditional settings.
- One alternative to talking, if you’re not comfortable showing your face to the counselor, is to use ‘chat’. This is where you and your counsellor type messages to each other. You can’t hear or see each other but communication is instantaneous.
- If you prefer, you can use e-mail. Although this method is slower, some people appreciate having longer to consider what their counsellor says to them and the fact that they can take time to respond.
- If you have a webcam, and prefer to work that way, you can go one step further and you and your counsellor can actually see each other as you work. For some people, this is the most effective way of working online and is the next best thing to being in the same room as your counsellor. All you need is a computer, a broadband connection and, a webcam and your cousellor’s consulting room is right there!
- And there’s no need to worry about confidentiality. Video calling programs like Skype are encrypted which means that no one else can listen in on your conversation.
So, find somewhere where you can be uninterrupted for an hour or so and you are ready to start. Working in this way can be as straightforward as talking on the telephone and, at the click of a button, you can be talking to someone on the other side of the world.
Disadvantages of counselling
As with anything, there can be disadvantages:
- working online cannot completely match the immediacy of face-to-face counselling;
- there can be slight delays in communication;
- there is always the possibility of losing contact during a session;
- if your counsellor is located in another country, time differences need to be taken into account;
- and finally, not everybody feels sufficiently comfortable with computer technology to work in this way.
But at least you now have a choice! Countless people are finding that these potential disadvantages are insignificant when compared to the advantages offered by this new way of accessing therapy. Wouldn’t you? Especially when you can receive professional advice in the comfort and secrecy of your own home?
Online counselling is becoming more and more popular. There is a growing number of counsellors who are moving with the times and offering online counselling alongside their usual services; this is in line with the wide range of networking opportunities available on computers, Smartphones and tablets.