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Exploring the Benefits of Online Counseling

By Bob Andrews Subscribe to RSS | January 4th 2012 | Views:

If you live in a metropolitan area and grew up in a household supportive of mental health services, the idea of meeting with a therapist once a week in an office setting will not seem uncomfortable. However, some individuals experience shame around the stigma of psychological counseling or live in rural areas without access to professional psychiatric services. When you fit into this second category, internet-based therapy may provide the key to healing and personal growth, and both patients and researchers recognize the benefits of online counseling.

Internet-based counseling offers numerous services and tools to clients in need. The majority of online therapy occurs through email messages, live chat rooms and even message boards for group settings. However, many professionals working with patients via the internet do provide their phone numbers in case of emergencies. These technological mediums provide flexibility for both patients and professionals. Outside of a crisis situation, emails, posts and instant messages can be read at leisure. Scheduled meeting times are not constrained to normal business hours which is one of the most important benefits of online counseling. Without the need to factor in travel time, you can include therapy in your busy life and not be forced to sacrifice your mental health for your career or children.

An important point should be made here. Even if you opt for traditional face-to-face counseling in an office setting, a lot of therapeutic effort still depends on these mediums. The benefits of online counseling affect traditional psychotherapy as well, because more and more therapists are turning to internet-based tools to stay in contact with clients between sessions. It is not uncommon for counselors and patients to send each other emails or text messages. Even Sigmund Freud shared letters with his clients beyond the walls of his office. Internet-based communications supplement therapy, and professional boundaries can still be maintained.

If you feel ashamed about your depression or anxiety, or if you were raised in a household that frowned upon asking for help, the benefits of online counseling are especially relevant for you. The reality is that the stigma surrounding mental health services is not going anywhere soon. In a world where psychiatric diagnoses are linked to terrorist attacks and other criminal behaviors, being in therapy is not always something you want to brag about. Internet-based therapy helps placate some of this shame by keeping the process in the comfort of your own house. For disabled individuals who would require specialized transportation to attend sessions, online options further reduce shame and improve attendance.

You do not have to travel to medical office to receive treatment and you do not have to create excuses when friends see you leaving a session. Online counseling increases your comfort so you can increase your openness. And for many individuals, internet-based therapy may be just the first step in treatment. After learning more about their psychological health and receiving feedback about their emotional concerns, some people decide to begin traditional counseling to further develop a therapeutic alliance and tackle more complicated problems.

Some disadvantages to online counseling do exist, especially for select populations. Both internet-based therapists and traditional counselors, benefits of online counseling can only intervene so much during an emergency. However, face-to-face sessions do permit psychologists to better assess their patients for suicidal thoughts or other risks. If you suffer from complex mental illnesses such as personality disorder or schizophrenia, online therapy may not prove successful as it is not geared toward long-term care. Finally, you should select a professional who prioritizes privacy and ensures that your information is protected. Once your trust is broken, therapy cannot succeed.

Bob Andrews - About Author:
Separating fact from fiction when it comes to benefits of online counseling, Bob Andrews is inherently curious about psychology and how we perceive the world. When looking for good information he usually checks out the experts at

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