Online and telephone counselling are considered the new normal in 2022. After the pandemic many people who access mental health support have decided to go for a virtual option before face-to-face.
The advantages that online counselling gives are endless. A word that would describe online or telephone counselling perfectly would be convenience. The flexibility that it provides is one of the key factors why people choose it before face-to-face. But what do counsellors prefer? What are the advantages and disadvantages of online counselling for counsellors? We will be basing some of the answers with the help of multiple studies. (1)
What do counsellors think about online counselling?
Different studies from 2005 to 2019 (2) found that counsellors in general seemed to prefer face-to-face counselling than a virtual approach but were aware of the unique benefits technology provided.
It is clear that the pandemic has changed our society affecting not just the way we work or socialize, but also our mental health and the approach we take to mental health support, many doing it virtually. This has helped many therapists change the way they used to see technology applied to their work, making many of them happy to offer online and telephone sessions.
Advantages of online counselling (+ telephone, email, text…)
Many mental health professionals find beneficial the opportunity to give a larger number of sessions than they used to with face-to-face support. They also notice that more people access mental health support since they find this approach more convenient.
Online counselling or the other forms of virtual counselling are much better and helpful for people with social anxiety and interpersonal issues, making it easier to support them.
Disadvantages of online counselling (+ telephone, email, text…)
Some counsellors who use chat messaging noticed that clients can become more dependent due to having constant contact with the counsellors.
An interesting fact where different counsellors agreed to is that counsellor and client don’t share the same physical space, this could lead to a high-risk scenario where a patient can act out or imitate someone else’s problems as theirs.
Is online counselling and face-to-face counselling the same?
Studies from 2014 (by Northwestern University and Germany’s Leipzig University) suggest that online psychotherapy and face-to-face are the same in terms of efficiency, especially in long-term clients. A more recent study from 2020 by Meredith S. Pescatello (3) demonstrates the same as the study from 2014 but clarifying that online therapy can be as effective for various mental health conditions, but not all of them like critical psychiatric illnesses, that may need a different form of support.
Some of the benefits that Online or Telephone Counselling have are:
- Accessible from any location
- Good for people living far away
- Easier accessibility for people with physical limitations
- Affordability (online counselling tends to be more affordable than in-person, as well as you save money on transport…)
- Good for people with social anxiety
- Confidential (Telephone counselling allows you to remain as anonymous as you wish)