Given the current limitations with face-to-face interactions in this Covid-19 pandemic, there is increasing popularity in regards to teletherapy, also known as virtual counselling. This type of counselling can take place via telephone or by video through a secure and confidential online platform. Either option can be used depending on a client’s and therapist’s preferences.
Keep in mind that therapists are usually bound by their regulatory college to serve a specific province, country, region, etc. that they are registered in for providing counselling services, so they will advise if they can help you when you reach out to them.
I’ve had clients request virtual counselling services for many reasons. Some people have contacted me because they are worried about being criticized by their family or other people in their life who don’t believe in counseling based on their own personal, cultural, religious perspectives. Because of this, the client wants to access help in private where they don’t have to go into an office and risk being seen. Other people have reached out to me because of the challenges they’ve run into accessing services where they live. There have also been clients who have connected with me because their disability or illness makes it difficult for them to get out and about as often as they would like for in-person services, so they appreciate the convenience that teletherapy offers them. This wide range of issues is what has inspired me to write this article to help the general public learn more about online counseling and how it can be helpful.
If you’ve never tried virtual counselling before and are interested in learning more about it, keep reading to find out more about the possible benefits of going online.
Offers the opportunity to serve remote regions with limited in-person services
One of the best benefits of virtual counselling is the chance to provide much-needed services in areas that may not have in-person counselling available or where excessive travel may be required to get to the closest therapist’s office or mental health centre. This may be the case in more remote regions where there are not a lot of options locally.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to receive in-person counseling previously based on where you live, then virtual counselling services may allow you to get the help you need as the options online are vast and there are many therapy networks and service providers to choose from.
Provides more options than only using your local neighborhood resources
Even if there are some in-person counselling available in your hometown, the options could be restricted to perhaps one or only a few, so going virtual dramatically increases the range of services that can be explored, especially if you’ve tried your local therapy services and haven’t felt it was a good fit or match.
Furthermore, online counselling may allow you to get help for a particular type of need or issue or seek out a professional who offers a specific therapeutic style or approach that you are interested in. This type of specialization or experience may not be available in your local region’s counselling services. Being able to choose an online therapist who is able to serve your region broadens the options available to you so you can search more openly until you find exactly what you are looking for.
If you try out an online therapist but still don’t feel it is a good connection after some time, then you still have the chance to go back online and review the broad range of professionals until you feel you have found someone you trust, who hears and understands you, and who you can be completely open with regarding your worries, stressors, and needs. This is all part of the journey and the learning experience of counselling.
Maintains privacy and minimizes stigma
Let’s say you are part of a family who doesn’t believe in counselling or therapy, or you are worried about stigma and criticism from those in your personal network, cultural or religious group, or other contacts in your social circle for seeking out mental health assistance.
Having the chance to go online for support in the privacy of your own room or home where others cannot see you in a waiting room or walking into a counselling office may bring you the peace that you deserve.
Increases accessibility for those impacted by a disability or chronic illness
For those of you affected by a disability or chronic illness, it may be even harder to get out of your home to access in-person counseling services. Perhaps you are reliant on caregivers to help with your personal needs, or maybe you need help from others to get in and out of your home and for transport due to mobility restrictions, or it could be that you might have many medical appointments and issues with fatigue, pain, discomfort, etc. that adding in-person counselling appointments on top of everything else may seem too overwhelming.
Teletherapy may be a great solution for you since access to counselling is much greater within the comfort of your own home and in between your day-to-day needs.
Allows for greater flexibility with appointment dates and times
Similarly, if you are working an irregular schedule with constantly changing shifts, or if you have a very long commute and might be looking for early morning or late evening services, or if you are very occupied caring for young children, an elderly parent, or a family member with a disability or chronic illness, you might benefit from the increased flexibility that comes with virtual counselling.
You just might be able to find an online counsellor who can offer sessions in the specific time window you are looking for, which may not otherwise be possible with in-person therapy services that might follow a typical business hour schedule.
If you’re looking for mental health support that goes a little outside of the box based on your needs, obligations, and responsibilities, give online counselling a try – you might be pleasantly surprised by the expanded choices and options it could offer you.
Good luck and all the best in your search for a virtual therapist who is a solid match for your unique needs!