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e-counselling: the new face-2-face?

Updated: Aug 12, 2020

Like so many other services most talking therapies have gone online during Lockdown. The word is that this could be the new norm for some time to come.

But online counselling isn't something new. Sometimes referred to as e-counselling, it has been readily available since the nineties. It is thanks to the wonders of modern technology that counselling support is available to us virtually around the clock.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with e-counselling, it refers to all counselling services delivered via the internet, such as video calling, email, chat/messaging. Of course, voice calls can be made online, too, although a distinction is sometimes made between telephone and e-counselling.

Video counselling is being offered as an alternative to face-2-face sessions

Due to Lockdown many therapy rooms remain closed and counsellors have focused on expanding their e-counselling services to meet the current need. Video counselling is being offered as an alternative to face-2-face sessions.

While it is generally agreed that face-2-face counselling is beneficial, some of us, who have switched from face-2-face to e-counselling during Lockdown and are new to video or telephone counselling are appreciating the convenience as well as the effectiveness of e-counselling.

Some of us are appreciating the convenience as well as the effectiveness of e-counselling

Points in its favour may include:

  • accessing counselling is fairly easy, wherever you're located, as no travel is involved.

  • the time saved by not needing to travel could make all the difference as to whether or not you can fit counselling into your schedule.

  • you don't have to limit yourself to choosing from counsellors in your area.

  • scheduling appointments is often easier when the counsellor does not have to access a therapy room.

  • sessions may be more cost-effective as there are no travel costs involved and some counsellors offer a lower fee for e-counselling.

  • you can be in your own setting.

  • you may feel less inhibited than when meeting face-2-face

(this is sometimes referred to as disinhibition).

It is important to note that the last two points are not always favourable. It may be wise to consider:

  • if you are not in a comfortable or safe setting and have little privacy, e-counselling may be difficult to manage.

  • whether your counsellor expresses an awareness of disinhibition.

For telephone counselling, your counsellor needs to be skilled in working without observing body language and facial expression. Of course, e-mail counselling works outside of all the usual communications we expect from face-2-face.

In certain circumstances online counselling may not be appropriate, so it's important to explore if it suits your needs.

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