What is online counseling?
Online counseling, also known as teletherapy, e-therapy, tele-counseling, refers to mental health services provided via the internet. Forms of online counseling include video sessions, emails, conversations by phone, and even text messages when specified.
According to The Federal Health Resources and Services Administration, telehealth is defined as, “The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”
In the current age of COVID-19, teletherapy has become a crucial and necessary form of communication. Online counseling is increasingly becoming an available option by mental health professionals as telehealth therapy is quickly bridging a gap and allowing mental health counselors to reach more people than before.
In addition, we are an increasingly technologically driven society. At any given moment, most of us are no more than a quick reach away from some form of technology whether it is a smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, or laptop.
This has not only changed the way we communicate with each other informally but has impacted the health profession and how we communicate with clients as well.
How does online counseling differ from traditional counseling?
One main difference between online counseling and traditional counseling is the mode of communication. In traditional counseling, the counselor provides face-to-face services with the client in the same location for sessions.
Conversely, for online counseling sessions, the counselor and client utilize telecommunication technology to communicate.
The Canadian Medical Association Journal conducted a systematic review of the literature published between 2000 and 2012 and identified 1104 articles reporting Internet-delivered or computerized treatments for common psychiatric disorders. They found that online delivered cognitive behavioral therapy combined with clinical care has been shown to benefit people with depression, anxiety and emotional distress.
The following are a few major benefits of online therapy compared to in-person counseling:
In our busy lives, it can be difficult to find the time to make our mental health a priority. Online therapy can afford clients the ability to engage in a counseling session during their regular workday without having to leave their office, while watching their children, in-between running errands, and more. As well, it allows for a more flexible schedule for both the counselor and client while eliminating the additional time for the traffic and commute.
For prospective clients who may be uncomfortable with more traditional models of therapy, they may find online counseling as a better fit for their needs, too. For example, clients who have social phobias, agoraphobia, or anxiety disorders may especially benefit from the option to utilize technology to communicate with their counselors, especially given the changes to our daily lives due to COVID.
Depending on your location, you may not have many counselors readily available for sessions. In some rural communities or remote areas, the nearest counselor’s office may be an hour drive away. Some clients may not have the availability to attend a session, are unable to drive, or don’t have access to reliable transportation to get to an appointment. Clients with chronic illnesses or disabilities may not be able to easily leave their homes. In these situations, teletherapy may be their only option for mental health services.
Recommendations for Online Counseling
The Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & Marriage and Therapy board provides the following recommendations for clients’ consideration when choosing a counselor for online therapy.
Verify the counselor has a current and valid license in the state of Ohio.
The counselor who provides services using the internet shall have a website, which must include information relative to the license the licensee holds, his or her physical location, his or her contact information, etc.
Understand the fee that you will pay for the services rendered.
Fully comprehend the method and to whom the fee is paid.
Ensure you are comfortable with the modes of communication being utilized for online counseling to ensure the confidentiality of communication with and by the counselor.
Make yourself aware of the risks and benefits of receiving the services so you can make an informed choice about the services provided.
Confidentiality is an important element of developing a healthy therapeutic relationship, it is important that your counselor is taking sufficient steps to ensure your identity and health information is being appropriately protected. Therefore, ensure that you are comfortable with the process/methods of communication.
Limitations of Online Counseling
On the other hand, it is important to acknowledge the limitations of telehealth therapy:
Online therapy may be a challenge for privacy/confidentiality if others are present in the client’s home or environment. For example, someone could walk into the room, access the client’s computer or other technology, etc.
Spotty or unreliable internet connection on either end could interfere with the flow of the therapy session.
It can be difficult to read body language through video sessions or other forms of communication such as phone, emails, texts can lead to miscommunication.
Overall, online counseling provides benefits for individuals who are comfortable utilizing technology to communicate and value the convenience offered by this service.
5 Signs You May Benefit from an Online Life Coach
Reflect on a few of the following questions:
Have you ever felt like your life seems to take a wrong turn at exactly the wrong time?
Are you feeling disconnected or dissatisfied with one or more areas of your life?
Life is stressful, and managing all your responsibilities, relationships, personal thoughts, and feelings can be difficult! However, you don't have to navigate the discomfort alone. An online life coach can provide tremendous support and guidance in helping you live your best life and become an improved version of yourself.
Curious if you could benefit from life coach services? The following are 5 common reasons people seek online life coaching and what you could get out of it, too!
1. You want to make a big change (but It scares you!)
Did you know that on average, people have 10-15 different jobs within their careers? Change is hard, isn't it? Even positive changes can be stressful. From finishing school to switching careers to having children, adulthood is full of different milestones and changes.
Maybe you feel like you are stuck in a rut. Maybe you know you want to make a new change, like getting out of a toxic relationship or starting your own business, but the thought of taking that next step terrifies you or perhaps you are afraid of failure or rejection.
Whatever the case, this is an excellent opportunity to seek the services of an online life coach. They can assist you with dismantling fears and replacing negative thinking.
2. You feel constantly stressed and overwhelmed
More than 70% of Americans report feeling moderate to high levels of stress throughout the day. Do you relate to this?
While stress is a normal reaction to difficult or upsetting situations, if you're constantly feeling stressed, it can be a tremendous obstacle. Chronic stress can impact your mood, relationships, work performance, and energy. It can also lead to health complications, such as high blood pressure and sleep problems.
Sometimes, stress doesn't just go away on its own. Stress can even increase or build over time. If you're finding yourself feeling overwhelmed or stuck in a reel of negative cognitive distortions, consider an online life coach.
A life coach can teach you the appropriate relaxation strategies, techniques to change negative thoughts into positive thinking, and helpful skills to help boost self-esteem.
3. You feel like everyone is better (or always a step ahead of you)
It is normal to feel insecure in some situations. However, if you feel like your lack of confidence holds you back from healthy relationships or performing well at work, this could be a major obstacle for your happiness.
Self-esteem helps you take positive risks and feel closer to the people you love. It also helps you believe in yourself, which is incredibly important for achieving success and meeting your goals.
Low self-esteem can feel incredibly isolating and frustrating. Even if you logically know you have worth, it can be hard to put that into practice in your daily living.
There are many aspects that can impact self-esteem such as a history of trauma, unhealthy relationships, and dissatisfaction with current work or living environment. It can also be a side effect of a serious mental illness, such as depression or anxiety.
However, self-esteem is treatable, and an online life coach specializes in boosting self-confidence. This is typically achieved through methods of empowerment, practicing healthy boundaries, assertive communication, and taking positive and calculated risks.
Your life coach will also validate and praise your successes in a healthy and constructive manner. They can help you channel your authentic self and harness your own worth.
Sounds like a win-win, right?
4. You just feel lost or stuck
Maybe you are stumbling around and trying to find your path but haven't landed your success just yet. Maybe you're living without a clear vision or plan for the goals you want to achieve. Maybe you've made a few positive changes in your life, but you still feel stuck and bored.
It's common to feel lost and scared about the future sometimes, but if these feelings are absolutely paralyzing you to the point where you feel stagnant or depressed, it’s a sign of a deeper issue.
Let's be honest; nobody likes to feel stuck. Part of strong mental health entails being able to follow through with goals and feel motivated and excited for what lies ahead of you. If you feel disconnected or like you're "just getting through the day," you might need some professional help.
An online life coach can assist you with narrowing down your interests and finding new passions (or rediscovering old ones). A life coach can help you feel that spark for life that's currently diminished.
Feeling lost can be a scary and uncomfortable feeling, but it's not something you have to suffer through alone. Help is available.
5. You just need some support
Even if you have the greatest spouse or tightest group of friends in the world, they may not be able to adequately help you with your intimate struggles.
This often isn't intentional-sometimes the people closest to us simply don't know how to help or what they should do to comfort you or make you feel better. And the good news? That's actually not their job.
This is where the professionals come in. They are actually trained to appropriately listen, assess, and provide resources and interventions designed to help your specific problems. As well, they are trained to be neutral, sidestep emotional biases, and provide you with feedback that benefits you as much as possible.
A good support system is one of the greatest assets a person can have in navigating daily life. Even if you don't have a "specific" problem, life coaching can provide a wonderful opportunity for simply exploring ideas and getting helpful feedback. Remember, this is their job! When it comes to helping you, any problem is a valid problem.
To recap, if you feel like you are struggling or overwhelmed with your daily living, know that help is always available.
A good online coach can provide you with useful tools, supportive advice, and feedback to help you achieve the life of your dreams.
Stop putting off your happiness and start reaching out. Book an online session with us today and we'll help you get back on the right track.
To book our online counseling and coaching services visit: Nayaclinics.com/book-online
Sam Nabil was featured in many prestigious publications. Check out his interview with Aljazeera English, The Washington post, The Boston Globe, Fatherly magazine, Women's health magazine, Cornell university , Yahoo News, USA Today, Marriage.com