Traditionally, people make appointments to visit a psychotherapist to discuss their problems in person. However, with the coming of the internet, we now have online counselling, in which an individual can interact with the counsellor at the comfort of their home through internet services like email, chats, IMs, and web camera. There is an on-going debate regarding the effectiveness of online counselling with respect to the traditional way of consulting a counsellor in person.
Most of those who are sceptical about online counselling are of the belief that the counsellors or psychotherapist cannot observe the body language of the patient through an online medium like email or a video chat. However, such assumptions are irrational, because counselling is not limited to psychoanalysis, in which the analysis of the body language might be important. There are a number of counsellors, who believe in helping their clients find their own solutions to problems rather than imposing one upon them.
Again, an online session has the potential for a more focused discussion of the problem, as it is devoid of distractions such as being aware of the presence of a second person, and the resulting consciousness of one’s appearance and body language. With increased attention to language and thought organization in the comfort of one’s familiar environment, one can help in converging on the core of the problem faster and more effectively.
However, online counselling can never entirely replace the traditional, face-to-face psychotherapy sessions. It is just another way of providing immediate care to those seeking it. Of all the disadvantages of online counselling, the most talked about is the lack of verbal and non-verbal cues. Such cues are considered vital for assessing how the patient is feeling, and analyse his or her behavioural patterns. Online counselling denies the therapist access to such cues to observe and interpret the issues the client is facing. However, video chatting offers a means to counter this shortcoming, even though it may not be as effective as a face-to-face consultation.
Another disadvantage that the critics of online counselling assert is that of privacy and confidentiality. It is part of the ethical responsibilities of a mental health practitioner to maintain the confidentiality of their patients’ mental health issues. With therapy being conducted via Internet services like email, Instant Messaging and chat rooms, the sensitive information regarding the client’s mental health can be prone to confidentiality breach. However, with the latest security systems implemented, one can avoid such jeopardy and ensure the confidentiality of patient details.
Social stigma is the most problematic disadvantage of traditional counselling. The very fear of being seen by others, especially those in the waiting room, can discourage a client from seeking an appointment with a psychotherapist. This is where online therapy gets involved. Online counselling lets the client share their problems in private, with a veil of anonymity, which enables them to make honest confessions and revelations that can help the therapist arrive at a solution faster and more effectively.
Insighte, connected to the best psychotherapists in India, offers a wide range of online counselling and psychotherapy services to individuals in need of help. Just send in your details, choose your preferred mode of care, and leave the rest to us. We will connect you to the best psychotherapist in your locality who can help you.