Benefits Of Online Counseling

By Nicola Kirkpatrick

Updated January 11, 2019

Reviewer Aaron Dutil

There comes a time in everyone's life that they find themselves in a situation where they need someone to talk to about their issues. There are many benefits of talking through one's issues instead of keeping them bottled up. Having someone available who can help you process your thoughts and feelings and provide some guidance if needed is truly valuable. We all need someone who is willing to actively listen to us without judgement.


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Much has been written about the benefits of counseling. Counseling can help you address issues causing you distress, help you understand yourself and help you achieve your goals. And, many people find it helpful to talk to an objective person who has education and experience in the issues people often struggle with as well as hold them accountable. Recently, there have been studies which have shown the effectiveness of online counseling. It has been shown to be just as effective as office based counseling, which is what most people use.

However, not everyone has access to a licensed professional counselor where they live. Some people live in places where very few mental health professionals exist. Other people have access to professional counselors through their public health services but many of these services have long waiting lists and can only meet the most chronically mentally ill with any immediacy.

In addition to lack of public mental health services or long waiting lists, there is the issue of getting a mental health counselor's office. Many office based counselors have limited evening hours, making it difficult for many of those professionals who work a normal day job. People with physical limitations and disability issues can struggle attempting to get to a mental health counselor's office. Therefore, online counseling with a licensed mental health professional is a perfect alternative. There are many advantages for online counseling for those people who are appropriate for this types of service.

Finally, many people enjoy the quasi-anonymity of online counseling. Although this isn't truly the case (online therapists must follow the same government rules as an office based therapist), because people can text from their phone or laptop, it allows many people to open much more quickly than if they were verbally expressing highly personal issues in person. After all, they are not sitting across from someone who is looking at them. This can lessen a person's sense of shame in divulging something that they would normally perceive as embarassing or strange.

When Online Counseling is Appropriate

Online counseling is appropriate for many common mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, stress management, career and relationship issues. And, it is convenient. For many people with scheduling and logistics issues as discussed previously, these problems no longer factor in. Online counseling can be done from just about anywhere, any time of the day.

Online counseling can be broken down into two forms: live counseling and asynchronous counseling. Live counseling is when you are meeting with a counselor via video based teleconferencing or telephone. Another method used by some platforms, such as Betterhelp allows for a person and his or her therapist to text (called Live Chat at Betterhelp) back and forth at the same time. Live counseling isn't all that much different than working with a therapist in his or her office, except you can actually do it from the comfort of your own home.


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Asynchronous online counseling is when a client sends messages to their therapist and the therapist will send a response, once he or she logs back on to the platform to reply to client messages. Most therapists respond to messages daily, sometimes a few times a day depending on the therapist's availability. Some clients prefer one method over the the other but other clients will use both depending on their specific needs. It's based on personal preference, there is no best method.

Over the past few years an increasing number of individuals have sought online therapy. With online therapy the client and therapist meet online for text, phone or video chat at a time convenient for both. As we can see it is similar to traditional face to face therapy, but offers more flexibility. Many online therapy sites offer comprehensive payment plans that include unlimited sessions and emails. These are especially helpful to individuals undergoing emotional stress or anxiety and would like to chat with someone fairly quickly. Another advantage is there is less paperwork to complete due to the lack of insurance requirements as there is for office based counseling.

Online Therapy Opens Doors for Healing

Sometimes when individuals are going through a significant life change or difficult transition…such as a new job, loss of a job, retirement, divorce, or the death of a loved one, the simple task of composing an email to a therapist can have a tremendous positive effect. The email becomes a symbol of action, thus aiding in the alleviating of feelings of helplessness and suffering. When the therapist responds, he or she has had time to review the email, assess the content, compare to previous emails, and conduct any necessary research into a topic.


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A distinct advantage of online therapy is its convenience for the therapist as well. Not having to carve out time during the day to go to an office appointment means more time and energy for the therapist to focus on their client and the issue. After all, no one enjoys commuting and this is time that can be spent working with others.

Currently, Betterhelp.com is one of the most often recommended online counseling programs. Betterhelp has many clinically licensed and caring therapists. Many of the therapists at Betterhelp specialize in certain types of mental health issues. In addition to online counseling with a therapist, there are how to and self-help articles also written by qualified professionals. These articles can help educate people on various common issues many people struggle with in life. For current clients of Betterhelp, they have access to groupinars on specific topics that many people tend to struggle with in their lives. These groupinars are facilitated by therapists who are very knowledgeable about the chosen topic.


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Conclusion

With most mental health or psychological issues, having someone with whom to talk and process issues with can be of great benefit. Knowing that there is someone an email away can help an individual to begin putting things into perspective and as the sessions are typically via email and chat, clients have an opportunity to re-read emails from past sessions and process the information before entering into the next one. At the same time, clients can schedule live appointments with their therapists via video or phone if they prefer a more traditional therapy appointment.

Please Note: Individuals who are in severe crises, thinking of harming themselves or anyone else should call 911 and allow trained emergency mental health professionals to take care of the situation and provide assistance. Betterhelp is not designed to assist clients experiencing an immediate psychiatric crisis.


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