The growing body of research into online counseling has established the efficacy of online therapy with treatment outcomes at least equal to traditional in-office settings.
(Mallen, Michael J.; Vogel, Rochlen and Day (November 2005). “Online Counseling Reviewing the Literature From a Counseling Psychology Framework”.
The Counseling Psychologist 33 (6): 819–871.)
I have always felt I would not conduct therapy through text as I couldn’t understand how this could compare to face-to-face talk therapy where the non-verbal communication can be so important and helpful for a therapeutic process. I thought the idea was strange and I questioned its effectiveness.
Upon completion of the course I did (see below) my level of belief in the process has completely changed. I now fully see the value and effectiveness of online text therapy and see that there are many people who much prefer it and benefit greatly from it.
What is Online Counselling?
Online counseling is the provision of professional mental health counseling services through the Internet. Services are typically offered via email, real-time chat and video conferencing. Some clients use online counseling in conjunction with traditional psychotherapy, and a growing number of clients are using online counseling as a replacement for office visits. I do email counselling (e-counselling or e-therapy) through a secure, encrypted website with the server located in Canada.
e-counselling: Unlike live chat, where communication is instant, the emails we will exchange will be written over a series of days or perhaps even weeks. Online counselling will enable you to compose your thoughts, edit what you write, and stop your writing if you need to, allowing you to return to your exchange when you are ready. In a way, it’s like keeping your own personal journal, except that you are communicating with a professional psychologist. Writing during times of distress is particularly useful for clients as it is considered to provide a vital avenue for emotional healing. Given that online counselling is an interactive form of therapeutic writing, interventions delivered in this environment may be quite effective in encouraging clients to express themselves in more thoughtful, self reflective and insightful ways.
This contact is typically asynchronous (you and your therapist type to each other at different times). The client may respond to the therapist within 7 days on their own time and the therapist does the same in response.
A secure server, a service purchased by this practice, is used for all e-communication. Messages are encrypted (put into a jumbled code when going between you and your therapist).
Who would benefit from Online Counselling?
- People who enjoy using electronic media and all the advantages it offer, eg. convenience, accesibility, confidentiality, etc.
- People who need to travel regularly
- People with very busy time schedules
- People who may have difficulty reaching appointments during normal business hours
- Rural residents and people in remote areas who do not have access to counselling services
- People unable to leave their home can also easily access such services with little inconvenience
Who would NOT benefit from Online Counselling?
However, online counselling as effective as it can be, is not for everyone. If you are feeling suicidal or are in a situation involving domestic violence or are in a crisis situation, then online counselling is not for you. You would benefit from more immediate face-to face counselling available in the community where you live or work or from myself face to face at either my practice in Sunninghill, Johannesburg or Lynnwood, Pretoria.
If you are in an emergency situation, it s important to understand that online counselling is not appropriate for you. My responses are not immediate and I am not able to respond to you immediately if you are in a crisis. The following information, guidelines and resources will assist you if you are in need of more immediate help.
- Contact me for face-to-face therapy
- Medical doctor
- SADAG: 011-234 4837 / 0800 70 80 90 / 0800 21 22 23
- Suicide Crisis Line: 0800 567 567
- Life Line: 0861 322 322 / 011-728 1347 / 012-342 2222
What clients like about Online Counselling?
- Confidential & discrete.
- Privacy – You can access confidential counselling in the privacy of your own home, or from any location that you prefer. You can be anywhere, anytime (on vacation, in another country, up in the middle of the night)
- A special energy is created through text via special forms of writing that is very effective and healing
- Convenience – access communication & send messages according to your schedule.
- Choice – access professional counselling services from geographically remote locations.
- Affordability – My fees for online counselling are less and packages are available for more than 4 exchanges.
- Anonymity – The absence of face to face contact can also prompt clients to communicate more openly without concerns for bias of race, gender, age, size or physical appearance. You are guaranteed not to “meet” other clients and you won t be worried about bumping into people you might know. This may lead to an increased level of honesty and therefore higher validity in the case of self disclosure. The internet clearly offers a level of anonymity that is perceived by many users as non-threatening through allowing an ‘invisibility’ that can be disinhibiting. You don t need to worry about meeting me face-to-face. Some people find the anonymity of online counselling to be easier and more comfortable than face-to-face or telephone counselling. . Like many others, you ll probably find it much easier to talk to someone online
- Security – PrivacEmail (pronounced “Privacy-Mail”) is a web-based, private and securely encrypted system designed specifically for secure, online counselling.
- Asynchronous communication – can allow for greater reflection & the process of writing can be therapeutic in itself.
Teenagers and e-counselling
If you are reading this and want to have e-counselling services, you must be 18 years of age. If you are not, please have your parents make contact so that they can give permission.
My training and credentials in Online counselling
Traditional counselling relies heavily on the characteristics of both verbal and nonverbal cues as a form of communication and as a way of gaining insight into the thoughts, feelings and behaviours around the clients presenting concerns. Online counselling is therefor a very specialiazed area of psychology and counselling due to the challenges of security, confidentiality and absence of non-verbal cues.
Currently there are no training or code of ethics guidelines and practices available in South Africa for the provision of Online counselling. I have therefor completed an intensive, post-graduate international Certificate in Cybercounselling approved by the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto and Therapy Online. I have made sure that the e-counselling I offer adheres to The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) guidelines for a telemental practice and the National Board for Certified counselors guideline for “The Practice of Internet Counseling”. I adhere to strict confidentiality policies when dealing with clients and client information. With these guidelines, my practice can provide quality treatment within a secure, private and confidentail platform (PrivacEmail) for potential patients.
I am registered with ISMHO – International society for mental health online
What should you do now?
Contact me for more information or setting up an online appointment to discuss your situation by sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org I will get back to you as soon as possible.