Online Counseling

Online Counseling
Institutional Affiliation
Online Counseling
Online counseling refers to the internet-based provision of professional mental health
counseling services (Richards & Viganó, 2013). The activity takes place through a variety of
platforms such as video conferencing, real time chats, and emails among others. As this
practice grows, users have developed a trajectory of utilizing it with nutritional counseling as
well as the traditional psychotherapy. However, a significant number of people are now using
online counseling as a substitute for office visits.
Online counseling has also overtaken telepsychology because of the coming of the
video chat systems via the internet and the accelerated of the penetration of broadband in the
last two decades. Therefore, clients favor using online counseling with the available
professional psychologists to add to the traditional face-to-face sessions or as an autonomous
form of counseling.
Brief History of Online Counseling
Creativity had underlined the advent of the prospect of the internet for therapeutic
communication from 1972 when the internet was incepted. When the internet was made
public, the then popular self-help groups took advantage of the launch to develop even further
(Richards & Viganó, 2013). Martha Ainsworth is attributed to the development of online
counseling because her travel arrangements made it difficult for her to organize face-to-face
counseling sessions, making her seek viable alternatives online. However, because help was
not forthcoming, she found her clearinghouse called Metanoia. The foundation helped in the
development of online counseling such that from its inception in 1995, five years later it had
more than 250 and 700 private practices and online clinics respectively (Richards & Viganó,
2013). These websites made it easier for clients to contact professional counselors and to
date; the practice has only continued to grow from strength to strength, making it popular
among the contemporary society.
Distinctions between the Traditional Counseling and Online Counseling
Brief History of Traditional Counseling
Human beings have always found comfort in sharing their problems with others in the
society because experience has taught humanity to take auxiliary precautions (Dowling &
Rickwood, 2013). The need for counseling was informed by the aspiration to help others
transition and overcome various difficulties in life. Therefore, it began within the family unit
with family members coming in to offer advice. With the strengthening of religion, the role
shifted to the religious setting and priests and vicars were then charged with the responsibility
of helping people (Lewis, Coursol, Bremer, & Komarenko, 2015). However, at this time in
history, the church often viewed mental illness as a kind of possession. It therefore resorted to
treatment that focused on the soul rather than the body, for instance by using methods like
There was a shift with the coming of the age of enlightenment during the industrial
revolution because populations became mobile and science set out to explain phenomena
rather than relying on the “regressive” religious points of view. This motivation led to the rise
of psychotherapy, which saw medical science taking over as the custodians of mental cases
and the discipline of psychiatry arising towards the conclusion of the 19th century (Dowling
& Rickwood, 2013). People like Jaques Lacan and Melanie Klein were instrumental in the
evolution of psychoanalysis. Liberalization in some parts of the world such as America
embraced the practice of analyzing people and their experiences. Finally, as the society
became more and more secular, so was the increase in seeking professional counseling.
The Major Differences between Online and Traditional Counseling
The setting of the two makes them appear worlds apart. On the one hand, traditional
counseling is based on face-to-face settings in which the clients seek services from the
professionals, mainly in their offices. The professionals also have the liberty to visit their
clients in their homes, hospitals, schools, and prisons as circumstances are wont to dictate
(Dowling & Rickwood, 2013). On the other hand, however, there is no physical contact
between the counselor and the client in online counseling. Rather, the practice takes
advantage of the internet like via video conferencing, emails, and live chats for offering the
therapeutic and counseling services to the clients.
Closely tied to the difference in setting is the aspect of anonymity regarding the two
methods of counseling (Dowling & Rickwood, 2013). The traditional method has two
characters who know each other in person since they see one another in person. However, in
online counseling, as much as it is obligatory for the professional and the client to introduce
themselves, they often remain anonymous since the neither the client nor the professional
gets to meet and know the other in person.
The communication in online counseling is a significant departure from the channel
employed in the conventional method. In the traditional scenario, the sessions rely on verbal
(word of mouth) as the fundamental channel of communication (Stommel & Te Molder,
2015). Additionally, it also employs the use of nonverbal cues that the counselor can interpret
and make meaning of what the clients are telling them. On the other hand, however, online
counseling relies on the modern channels of communication in electronic and digital forms.
As much as some methods in online sessions also employ the verbal method, it is imperative
to note that such communication does not take place one-on-one; rather, it has to be relayed
via a secondary channel.
The Process of Online Counseling
The process poses one of the biggest differences between these two methods, even
though they share some intrinsic values and traits because of the setting and contexts where
they are held. The initial disclosure succeeds signing up in which the client fills forms on
personal information, correspondence, and payment details (if applicable). After signing up
and agreeing to terms of service, the client does the initial declaration by writing an email or
contacting the professional via an alternative platform. The following stage is an in-depth
exploration in which the client becomes open to the counselor and tells him or her all the
problems, issues, questions or dilemmas (Stommel & Te Molder, 2015). This enables the
professional to put into perspective what is at stake. The third stage is the commitment to
action, where the counselor has diagnosed the problem and tells the client what to do to
overcome their problems. The client then commits to follow the steps laid down by the
counselor on the path to recovery. At this stage, the counselor remains in close contact with
the client through planned sessions at agreed intervals and monitors the progress made to the
conclusion of the program (Stommel & Te Molder, 2015). After both parties are satisfied and
the patient recovers, the counselor takes some time before doing a follow up to see how the
client is progressing.
Theories and Approaches Used in Online Counseling
Humanistic Approaches
Online counselors care most about the present circumstances of their clients and
helping them realize their highest potential. Rather than the energy spent on negative conduct
or the past, online counseling focuses on the goodness of their clients and stress a client’s
self-growth and actualization (Brooke, 2017). Consequently, they employ intrinsic theories
such as gestalt, client-centered, and existential therapies.
Holistic/Integrative Therapy
This method is used by both the online and the traditional methods of counseling. It
entails an integrative approach that includes various elements of dissimilar theories to their
practice. In a departure from the traditional talk therapy, the online adherents often include
non-traditional therapies like guided imagery and hypnotherapy (Brooke, 2017). Their main
objective is to employ the psychotherapy tools and techniques that are best suited for a
particular problem faced by the client.
Psychoanalysis/Psychodynamic Theory
This theory traces its origin to Sigmund Freud who held the belief that there are
inherent unconscious forces that control human behavior. For instance, he suggested
techniques like free association, dream analysis, and transference. These techniques are still
even used today by the online counselors by allowing the clients to talk freely to the
counselor so that they understand and put everything concerning the client into perspective
and find the right treatment (Brooke, 2017).
Cognitive Theory
Cognitive therapy, which is practiced by many online counselors tend to focus more
on their present situation of the client and distorted thinking rather than on their past. They
achieve this by combining it with behavioral therapy (Brooke, 2017). There is proven
evidence of the success of this kind of theory in helping with the quick recovery of the
clients. However, it is a method that is used in the traditional method of counseling, rather
than being a special preserve of online counseling.
The Pros of Online Counseling
Online service is a known affordable means to acquire professional counseling. The
therapist charges are lower compared to a therapist with known services establishments. The
reason is that the therapist does not require to rent out commercial properties as the service
can be offered from his/her private home or room. The client saves on commuting charges
and other rates.
Avoidance of Social Shame
Online counseling offers a means to avoid humiliation and shame associated with
physically walking into a counseling center (Brooke, 2017). The stigma associated with
visiting a counseling center does have a play part on a client who would wish to avoid it.
Online counseling offers privacy and reduces to zero the chance for the stigma to clients.
Online counseling offers both the client and the therapist the freedom of
correspondence at any time of convenience. This allows proper planning for the client and
ease of service access.
The Cons of Online Counseling
Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction
Online counseling denies counselor an opportunity to interact face to face with their
clients. Research, however, shows that face-to-face communication is the most effective way
to gauge a client feelings and response to counseling (Haberstroh, Barney, Foster, & Duffey,
Success of the Services
Online counseling cannot be proven effective, as there is no one on one encounter
involving a client and therapist (Haberstroh, Barney, Foster, & Duffey, 2014). The
effectiveness of a service devoid of this crucial link is uncertain.
Cultural Variances
Researchers have found that different cultures from around the world approach and
counsel severe depression patients differently (Haberstroh, Barney, Foster, & Duffey, 2014).
The online counseling services cannot be deemed accustomed to all cultures of clients they
provide services to.
Ethics Set by Online Counseling
There are various major challenges expected in the provision of professional online
counseling. Online counseling does not offer enough proof that the practitioner is duly
qualified and certified to offer professional service. This exposes clients to risk of falling to
online crooks pretending to offer bonafide services (Haberstroh, Barney, Foster, & Duffey,
2014). Since there are no known ways to ascertain qualifications and experiences of the
practitioner, the client would suffer quality services.
The client is not protected from the age-old tradition of doctor client confidentiality.
The client risks his data being access by anybody with tech knowledge unless the service
provider continuously upgrades the security of the system all the time (Kahn, 2016). This
continuous upgrade is costly, and it cannot, therefore, be assumed that the system is always
up to date to prevent invasion. Authorized access to the system can expose all the data of the
clients to the wide web thus breaking the trust the clients has for the online services.
Since online services are offered in a chat room and not in a one on one private room,
there are various problems that may occur that limit the quality services a client gets (Kahn,
2016). In case of network, breakdowns or the client lacks computer skills; the client will not
get a quality service. Online services have no borders, this, therefore, means that an online
service provider is not accredited to operate in all countries. This borderless service provision
lacks checks and balances excised and observed in various countries. A service that is not
designed and mindful of different cultures in the world is what a client is to find online.
Brooke, S. L. (2017). Combining the Creative Therapies with Technology: Using Social
Media and Online Counseling to Treat Clients. Charles C Thomas Publisher.
Dowling, M., & Rickwood, D. (2013). Online counseling and therapy for mental health
problems: A systematic review of individual synchronous interventions using chat.
Journal of Technology in Human Services, 31(1), 1-21.
Haberstroh, S., Barney, L., Foster, N., & Duffey, T. (2014). The ethical and legal practice of
online counseling and psychotherapy: A review of mental health professions. Journal
of Technology in Human Services, 32(3), 149-157.
Kahn, J. (2016). U.S. Patent No. 9,374,394. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark
Lewis, J., Coursol, D. H., Bremer, K. L., & Komarenko, O. (2015). Alienation among college
students and attitudes toward face-to-face and online counseling: Implications for
student learning. Journal of Cognitive Education and Psychology, 14(1), 28.
Richards, D., & Viganó, N. (2013). Online counseling: A narrative and critical review of the
literature. Journal of clinical psychology, 69(9), 994-1011.
Stommel, W., & Te Molder, H. (2015). Counseling online and over the phone: When
preclosing questions fail as a closing device. Research on language and social
interaction, 48(3), 281-300.

Place new order. It's free, fast and safe

550 words

Our customers say

Customer Avatar
Jeff Curtis
USA, Student

"I'm fully satisfied with the essay I've just received. When I read it, I felt like it was exactly what I wanted to say, but couldn’t find the necessary words. Thank you!"

Customer Avatar
Ian McGregor
UK, Student

"I don’t know what I would do without your assistance! With your help, I met my deadline just in time and the work was very professional. I will be back in several days with another assignment!"

Customer Avatar
Shannon Williams
Canada, Student

"It was the perfect experience! I enjoyed working with my writer, he delivered my work on time and followed all the guidelines about the referencing and contents."

  • 5-paragraph Essay
  • Admission Essay
  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Argumentative Essay
  • Article Review
  • Assignment
  • Biography
  • Book/Movie Review
  • Business Plan
  • Case Study
  • Cause and Effect Essay
  • Classification Essay
  • Comparison Essay
  • Coursework
  • Creative Writing
  • Critical Thinking/Review
  • Deductive Essay
  • Definition Essay
  • Essay (Any Type)
  • Exploratory Essay
  • Expository Essay
  • Informal Essay
  • Literature Essay
  • Multiple Choice Question
  • Narrative Essay
  • Personal Essay
  • Persuasive Essay
  • Powerpoint Presentation
  • Reflective Writing
  • Research Essay
  • Response Essay
  • Scholarship Essay
  • Term Paper
We use cookies to provide you with the best possible experience. By using this website you are accepting the use of cookies mentioned in our Privacy Policy.