Professional counseling assists many individuals at all stages of their lives and with a variety of problems. Many people are familiar with spiritual counseling from a pastor or a rabbi; life counselors assist people to get organized or improve the quality of their lives; addiction counseling is available for those seeking to break the cycle of dependence on drugs, alcohol or gambling; Health Coaches assist in wellness and nutrition. Everyone has been counseled at some time in his or her life; teachers are ‘education counselors’, after all.
Online counseling is a relatively new option that is open to anyone, but it is particularly useful for individuals living in rural or very remote areas. It is also ideal for those who may feel anxious or embarrassed about participating in counseling face-to-face. It is also a great option for those that have real doubts that counseling can actually help them. This is a very good way to try counseling for the first time to assess the benefits. Once an individual has reaped some benefits from online counseling, he or she may then decide to continue with some in-person counseling.
The Internet, as with most other things, provides choice: you have the ability to select from a wide variety of counselors rather than being limited to the counselors located close to your home or office. You can interview several and choose the one that you are most comfortable with. The online format often feels safer - especially to those participating in counseling for the first time - than does an in-person appointment with a counselor they have never met before.
One of the primary considerations, of course, is that you need to have a good Internet connection. However, online counseling can be accomplished via live ‘chat’ sessions or email, and if you are comfortable with the email option, even a dial-up Internet connection can work just fine. When choosing your preferred contact method think about how you will be most comfortable when expressing yourself. If you like the written word and are a fast typist, email or text ‘chat’ sessions may work well for you. If you are more comfortable conversing, consider a video chat session where you can speak directly to your counselor. If you want or need counseling at odd hours of the day or night, search for a counselor in a time zone that will allow you to schedule sessions at a time that best suits you.
Benefits of Online Counseling
Online counseling allows you to schedule sessions at whatever time works for you and your counselor. In many cases you will have a permanent transcript of your counseling session, either by saving the chat record or via email messages, which gives you a chance to go back and reread what your counselor has covered or to see how far you have progressed. This is an advantage with this type of counseling that in-person counseling doesn’t offer. The variety of counselors available for online counseling is likely to be greater than what is offered in your city or town. By visiting a website offering a selection of counselors, you can find a counselor who specializes in the type of counseling you seek - even down to a sub-specialty. For example, someone looking for an accredited, professional counselor can find someone who specializes in eating disorders, work addiction or grief counseling.