Counselling has traditionally been conducted face to face. A trusting relationship, necessary to the therapeutic work, has been facilitated by a fixed time and place. Online counselling in the UK has been frowned upon by many clients and therapists alike because of the limitations that it brings.
A research study published in 2014 found that online counselling is as effective as face to face therapy. Other studies also point to similar findings.
In a pre-pandemic world, considering online counselling would not have attracted the attention it does today. The only time you would consider online counselling is if you wanted to work with a therapist who was physically removed and inaccessible to you. Today, a large majority of the national workforce has worked from home and has attended online meetings on Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, etc. Online Counselling in the UK and across the globe has sprung into the horizon like never before and has become an easy way to access the support you need in your life from the comfort of your home.
What is Online counselling?
Online counselling has often been referred to as therapy sessions conducted over some kind of a video conferencing software requiring a computer (or phone), camera, microphone and speakers. This can include some of the software already mentioned as well as Whatsapp and FaceTime.
The less obvious means of engaging in online counselling are telephone counselling or e-mail.
Advantages to engaging in online counselling
- You don’t have to travel anywhere so there are no traffic delays or transportation problems to overcome.
- Arranging a convenient appointment time is a lot easier for both – the client and the therapist.
- Confidentiality is increased as you don’t have to meet anyone in the reception or in the waiting area.
- It can be easier to share private information over the internet than it is to do so in person.
Dis-advantages to engaging in online counselling
- Your body language cues in forming relationships might be missing.
- Maintaining confidentiality and privacy is your responsibility. You will need to ensure that the location you chose to engage in your sessions is confidential and private. I have spoken to clients sitting in their sheds, cars, attics, gardens and a range of other places.
- You are much more likely to be disturbed by children, pets, doorbells and other distractions. On the other hand, the ability to monitor children in the other room might make counselling more accessible.
- Technology can be a barrier if you are not comfortable in working with online mediums. Technological breakdowns can also disrupt a session.
Is it better in person?
I haver worked with individuals and with couples online and it does work but is not suitable for everyone and every issue. The best thing is to try one session and see if it works for you. There are some issues that are easier to work with like anxiety and anger but there might be issues that are harder to work with that require close contact like EMDR etc. Ultimately, it comes down to your ability and your comfort in working with an online medium versus face to face.
I offer online counselling in UK to my clients in Central London and in West London in Hampton.