How can you determine if online counseling is right for you?

Online counseling has both benefits and disadvantages to the user.  But how can you even figure out if it might work for you?  There are a few factors to consider.  Online therapy is very similar to face-to-face (f2f) therapy is that it involves rapport building, communication skills, putting time into the therapeutic relationship, and paying for services.  So what do you need to consider if you want to start working with an online therapist?

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself:

Do you like being online?

Chances are that if you enjoy spending time online in social networks, surfing through sites, and checking out blogs, you enjoy being online.  If you are not that keen on spending time sitting in front of a computer, then maybe f2f is the best option for you.

Can you use a computer to chat and send emails?

Having experience in chat rooms and sending emails for personal or business reasons is a great start. If you already feel comfortable dong this, you are on the right track for distance services. If you have no idea how to turn compose an email or get into a chat program, and do not feel like investing the time to learn, visiting a therapist after making a call to set up an appointment will work just as well.

How about paying for services online?

You ever take the time to buy books, computers, or something else online? If so, the process for paying for your online therapy sessions would be very similar.  Security a worry?  Most therapists use secure servers for accepting payments – the chances of having a payment get lost or hacked by a third party are pretty slim.

How do I connect with a therapist if I can’t see them?

This is a common doubt clients have mentioned to me in my practice.  I pose the notion that it takes time to create a therapeutic relationship in an office – it will also take time online. While the visual cues are not there, the written word is very powerful.  You can really get a lot from someone by how they phrase certain things or voice inflection over the phone – telephone consultations and sessions are also part of distance counseling!

Online counseling has a lot to offer, but it may not be for everyone. Is it for you? For more information, see what the International Society for Mental Health Online has to say.

What questions do you have about online counseling?

Belky Perez Schwartz is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida and on Breakthrough.com.  Read more about Belky Perez Schwartz on her website.

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