July 21, 2011
Online therapy has undergone a big improvement with a number of researchers and scholars writing about it. Online therapy involves receiving counseling sessions in the internet through emails, instant messaging, and teleconferencing. Many issues have led to its use in the society today with the major causes being its disinhibition effect and its convenience for the busy people as well as being cheap. According to Wright (2002), online counseling is closely related to writing therapy considering that people use emails most of the time where they express their feelings in details. He further asserts that clients feel better when writing about their feelings on traumatic experiences. Most literature writers view online writing to counselors as an interpretation of what the clients have written about themselves, which is of great importance (Wright, 2002).
Causes and Effects
One cause of online therapy, or why many clients prefer its use according to many sources is its ability to empower them in expressing their views without fearing disapproval from people around them since online counseling does not involve having people around and anonymity is maintained. According to Griffiths (2001), online therapy is disinhibiting, meaning that there is less social interaction, giving the clients a better chance of expressing themselves honestly and without leaving details when they are aware that no body is around to see what they are doing; hence, there is validity of self-disclosure. When one is in the presence of another person, expressing every detail of their issue might be a problem since most feel intimidated especially the shy people who may never want their secrets known. Anthony (2000) states, “The rapport between counselor and client in cyberspace is developed not by reacting to another person’s physical presence and spoken word, but by entering the client’s mental constructs via the written word.” This is an advantage for the intrinsic people who find it difficult to express themselves.
Another cause of online therapy is its cost effectiveness for most clients as compared to the traditional face-to-face method. Most people prefer to use online therapy as they feel that it does not cost much such as having to visit the counselor, and scheduling a session that might take long. Online therapy on the other hand is faster since feedback can be received instantly from anywhere. Online therapy has made it possible for the poor to access counseling considering the low prices they pay for online therapy. Most people found it hard to keep up with all sessions prescribed for them due to costs involved and any body can have access to affordable counseling. More so, online therapy reduces costs related to having to visit the therapist at their office, which might take long and involve forgoing other activities unlike online therapy that is accessible from and place.
Internet does not recognize geographical borders and can go anywhere in an instance providing connection between the counselor and the clients all the time at a little price. This has made it possible for people to engage in counseling especially the under served areas; hence, reaching out to more people especially the poor who could not have afforded to seek professional face-to-face counseling. It does not matter where one is now they need counseling services since it only requires access to internet and one can access the service. Most people were not in a position to access professional help especially if a specialist in a certain field was not available within the area of the client. With online therapy, many professionals have asserted that it provides access to all specialists from anywhere (Griffiths, 2001)).
The other cause of opting for online therapy is its convenience where clients can seek counseling services online any time of the day. Most people do not attend therapy sessions due to tight schedules that hinder them from seeing their therapist. For instance, if a client has to work in another place from the usual, such as a business trip, it means missing the session. With online therapy, one can use from anywhere at any time. This is one of the major reasons for online therapy, where clients can schedule their sessions when it is appropriate for them without interrupting their schedule. Griffiths (2001), asserts that online counseling provides both the client and the counselor convenient structure where scheduling may not be necessary, and more still, the counselor is in a better position to handle more clients within a short time.
The cause for online therapy that I feel contributed most to it was convenience since most people can now access online therapy at their desired schedules at any time of day or night. Online therapy should be practiced more; however, it will need improvement especially to have visual and audio support to improve interaction in cases where it is needed. Suler (2008), views online therapy as a new path opened for mental health treatment where professional are exploring methods of using online therapy to aid people in their problems. He further asserts that online therapy is offering a bigger possibility of treating mental health that never existed before since there is an easy access for people and information. In all the reviewed literature, it is evident that online therapy has been driven by its ability to be disinhibiting, convenient, accessible and cost effective. It shows that with this four factors addressed by online therapy, more people have the chance of receiving online mental treatment unlike in the traditional methods that require a lot. However, online therapy according to Anthony (2000), face-to-face therapy should not be compared to online therapy considering that in some cases online therapy may not provide everything especially where physical reaction and observation maybe needed.
Anthony, K. (January 01, 2000). Information Technology. Counseling in cyberspace. Counseling Rugby-, 11, 625-627.
Griffiths, M.D. (2001). Online therapy: A cause for concern? The Psychologist, 14, 244-248.
Suler, J. (2008)). Cybertherapeutic Theory and Techniques. P1: IBE\ 9780521873017c05
Wright, J. (2002). Online counseling: learning from writing therapy. British Journal of Guidance & Counseling, 30 (3): 285-298.