Our life is rapidly moving online. Everyone has long been accustomed to the convenience of online banking, buying all sorts of tickets, communicating with friends and family on messengers, getting quick feedback on such mundane requests like “deliver a pizza to me,” “write my paper for me,” or “help to solve a legal issue.”
But how to get a consultation from a psychologist online? How effective and anonymous is it? What are the pros and cons, risks, and clear advantages of psychotherapy online? This article will try to deal with these and other crucial questions.
The advantages of online counseling
As in many other areas of life, internet technology in psychotherapy makes services more accessible and offers many benefits designed to make life easier. Let’s break down these benefits.
A familiar home environment
It is much more convenient to communicate on complicated, sensitive topics when you are in the comfort of your home. If you use a laptop or smartphone to communicate, choosing a place in the apartment or house most conducive to a heartfelt conversation is effortless. Make yourself a cup of tea and get comfortable.
There is no need to go somewhere. In big cities, it is imperative because an hour or two of your time instead of traveling (i.e., other nerves and stress) is better spent on understanding your problems and overcoming them.
However, there may be no specialists in small towns with the necessary experience or skills. In this case, online help from a psychologist becomes an excellent alternative to going “to the district” or a neighboring town.
A separate case is when you live abroad, and there are simply no specialists who speak your native language nearby. In this case, working via Skype or Zoom is the only way to get quality help.
Great choice of specialists
If you want to have consultations offline, you limit yourself to the choice of a specialist by the geography of your residence. In turn, communicating online gives you the widest selection of psychotherapists. You can choose the person you like over someone who works close to your home.
You have sociophobia, agoraphobia, anxiety-phobic spectrum disorders
It can be challenging to go outside, be among other people, and ride in transportation with some conditions. And although these actions are important for overcoming anxiety, it is sometimes tough to take that first step. In these cases, the help of an online psychotherapist will come in handy.
If you are embarrassed to see a therapist and want anonymity
Many people fear that others will find out that they go to a psychologist or psychotherapist. They don’t want to be greeted by people they know when they enter a private office or clinic because they feel uncomfortable. Agree that we are hard to admit the problem’s existence, let alone someone else.
You can check the education and experience of your professional
Any responsible psychotherapist with the appropriate education will show you their diplomas and certificates on their website in free access. You will have the opportunity to see his qualifications and training areas to ensure his professionalism.
Promptness in case of an emergency
If you urgently need support in case of a panic attack, it is the online format that will help you quickly talk to a personal psychologist. You don’t have to go anyplace in this case. Just have your cell phone handy.
Various formats of communication
Modern technology allows psychologists to conduct online consultations in one of the following formats:
- The communication takes place by voice;
- in chat online;
- asynchronously by e-mail.
Such diversity in interaction makes it possible to choose the most convenient format.
Possible disadvantages of online counseling
Lack of personal contact with the psychologist
Some people believe that personal contact is necessary for effective psychotherapy. However, this is not always a necessity. In most areas of psychotherapy, work takes place in a format of communication. And communication in an online form is not fundamentally different from communication in person. In most cases, psychotherapists use video communication, which allows the interlocutors to see each other.
However, for some areas of psychotherapy, communication via the Internet is not suitable. It applies, for example, to body-oriented psychotherapy, some methods of work in hypnosis, as these methods require direct physical contact between the therapist and the client.
Problems in the Internet connection
It is probably the most serious difficulty, as communication becomes difficult because of problems with the Internet connection. Usually, this is solved by moving the consultation to another day or time. Such difficulties are pretty rare these days.
For quality online psychotherapy, the quality of the video camera installed on your smartphone or computer is not as important as the sound quality. You can work quite successfully with a lousy picture and quality sound, but the horrible sound makes the work very difficult or even impossible. So, if you want to get a consultation online, then take care of the sound quality.
Relatives who get in the way
Sometimes, people do not seek psychological help online because they do not want their loved ones to know that they are working with a psychologist or psychotherapist. Also, sometimes relatives may be negatively disposed against such work. In this case, it is better to go for a face-to-face consultation. Or consider working when your relatives are not near you. Since mobile Internet is getting better and faster every year, it is possible to have a consultation even while in a secluded corner of the park.
What you need for a successful consultation online
Here we will briefly tell you what technical preparations must be made for an online consultation to go as smoothly as possible:
- Make sure that your Internet connection is reliable.
- Take care in advance about the headphones (from a smartphone will do fine) or a headset. Both sides should hear each other well;
- Download and install on your phone/computer one of the free messengers used by psychotherapists.
You will be fully prepared to receive psychological help online when you follow these simple steps.