Like many others, you might have heard of online counseling (often called “teletherapy”) and looked it up to see what it’s all about – especially in the months after the pandemic when we were all finding things difficult. Even better, some of you may have taken the next step, signed up for a few online counseling sessions, and found that they were genuinely helpful.
But for everyone who got the help they needed, there are many more that couldn’t figure out what online counseling is exactly and how it can help them. If this is you, you’re not alone.
There are various therapy approaches to online counseling that change the dynamic of the session. While one approach might be perfect for a particular individual or couple, another method might be better suited for others. By understanding what’s available, you are empowered to make the best decision for your own situation and find the support you need.
When we hear the term online counseling, most of us immediately think about a traditional, in-person counseling session, except over video software, such as Zoom.
But it’s important to know that this isn’t the only way that online counseling can take place, and another approach might be better for you.
Here’s what each is and how they can help you.
This is the one we’re all most familiar with, where you connect with your trusted counselor over Zoom or a similar platform. In many ways it’s like traditional in-person counseling since you can both see and hear each other for the whole session.
How Video Counseling Can Help You
Video counseling is a very personal experience that allows you to explore your feelings in an open-forum format. Despite not being physically in the same room as your counselor, it has a similar positive effect for the individual or couple, with the added benefit of giving you the ability to find the right therapist for you.
It’s also much more accessible than the traditional option. You don’t need to travel to wherever your counselor is located, which can avoid stressful traffic or just make it easier for those who live in rural areas.
Best of all, it places you in control of your setting. It’s common for people who suffer from body dysmorphia, agoraphobia, or other issues with self-confidence to find going to a therapist to be daunting. With video software, you are able to turn the camera on or off as you progress through the sessions adding a sense of security and comfort.
Are there any drawbacks?
Every type of counseling will suit some people more than others. Generally speaking, if you think you need more involved support, such as couples marriage intensives, the scope of online counseling might be limiting for your situation. Whether that means taking part in a more robust program or simply avoiding issues with poor internet connection, there are times when video counseling may not be right for you.
Another popular approach to online counseling is by phone (or Zoom with the video feature turned off). In general, it shares many of the pros and cons of the video option, but the lack of visual connection does change the context in certain ways.
How Phone Counseling Can Help You
Like with video counseling, phone counseling is more accessible, maybe even more so than video counseling as it’s easier to take a call from anywhere without worrying about coverage issues.
If you live in a remote area with unstable internet connections, phone counseling can provide you with easy access to expert support services. Likewise, if you would prefer not to be seen, it allows you to feel comfortable while seeking help.
For anyone suffering from issues with self-confidence, this is a wonderful way to ease into getting individual therapy support. You may decide to carry out a certain number of sessions over Zoom with the video turned off and then, as your sessions progress, your confidence will increase to the point where you feel comfortable turning it on.
Are there any drawbacks?
Without seeing the counselor, it can sometimes be more difficult to form a connection of trust. At times, the phone-based context can feel too removed and impersonal, making it harder for you to confront your issues with openness and honesty.
Of course, if this is a problem, you can always ask your counselor to turn on their camera (assuming it’s over Zoom) until you feel more comfortable.
Email and Text-based Counseling
This type of counseling allows you to communicate with a therapist over email, text messaging or e-journals in live time or with a delay.
It’s a simple change from video and phone counseling, but it does make the context different and can help some individuals in ways that talking in live time can’t.
How Email or Text-based Counseling Can Help You
Many of us struggle to express ourselves in conversation. There are any number of reasons this can happen, but the result is always the same… frustration.
If we feel we aren’t able to communicate our feelings, it can act as a barrier to progress.
Imagine you’re speaking in a language that isn’t your native one. There’s a phenomenon in language-learning education circles called “language ego.” The idea is that there’s a disconnect between what you want to say and what you’re able to say because you don’t have the same control over your new language as you do with your native one.
In a therapy context where individuals are often challenged to express complex feelings and emotions, email or text messages offer a more comfortable means of self-expression as there is less or no time pressure. The same is true for anyone suffering from issues with self-confidence or simply struggling with very deep, complex emotions.
Are there any drawbacks?
With text-based counseling, the issue of privacy is front and center. It’s common for your deepest feelings to be explored in these sessions and they will be recorded in writing.
To benefit from the counseling, you need to make sure you trust the professional you’re interacting with and have full confidence in their digital security. If you work with a counseling expert, this shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s a good idea to ask about their practices.
Need More Help Finding the Right Approach For You?
Every individual and couple is unique, but there is always an option that is right for you. With online counseling, you have more options and accessibility than ever before to find the perfect individual or couples counseling support you need to live a fuller, happier life.
If you would like more in-depth information on the various options or still aren’t sure what is right for you, please feel free to get in touch for the counseling support you deserve. No matter your circumstance, I want to empower you to reconnect with yourself and the people in your life for a better present and future.