women in a circle with laptop computers

 Image by Scott M

One of the things that the internet and the development to the world wide web has made possible is on line counselling.  Let me say up front that I think this is an exciting and very worthwhile development.

For those of us who have experienced face to face counselling, the idea of counselling over the internet (effectively email counselling) may seem very weird.  Counselling face to face includes subtle changes to facial expression, posture, tone of voice and much else.  All of this is lost over the internet.  So, it is tempting to conclude that now worthwhile counseling could occur over the internet.  I, personally, am convinced this is wrong.  It is quite possible for people to explain their situation and problems and for a counsellor to provide worthwhile perspectives for them to think about.  In brief: on line counselling is about information and thinking. 

The great advantage of on line counseling, as I see it, is that it is appealing to a whole different group of people.  Counseling on line has the anonymity and the safety of dealing with emotions cerebrally that email offers.  Those who find the face to face aspect of counseling scary are more likely to consider on line as a way to go.  It may also be attractive to those who have shame as an issue (but I don’t have enough experience to know whether this is true).

I’d like to point you to one on line counseling site.  It is called Latest Online Counseling and it is run by Ewa Schwarz.   Ewa’s background is a diverse collection of counseling styles and also has some eastern influences, such as tai chi.  Ewa has a number of packages that she offers and her site contains a list of resources on counseling in general and specific issues as well.  She also has a competition where you can win a free counseling session.  I haven’t been a client of Ewa but her site has a good feel about it.  She is very open about her approach and background, which is a very good sign in a counsellor.  She also provides examples of her counseling sessions.  The examples on her site I find pretty impressive (and I’m not easy to impress).  So, if you are thinking of getting some counseling online I think Ewa’s site would be a good place to start.

12 Comments to “Online Counseling”

  1. Very cool, Evan. I know coaching isn’t counseling, but I have effectively used email in working with clients. As a matter of fact, one email I sent a client probably had more of an impact on him than 6 months of coaching had. It really got him to reorient toward his life.

    Any way, nice post.

  2. Evan says:

    Thanks Tom.

    Online counseling is probably quite close to coaching I guess.

    I think the right word, via email or however, can have great impact.

    Thanks for your comment.

  3. Mark says:

    Evan,
    On line counseling seems to me like taking a shower with your clothes on. I think you need the human interaction of the non verbals to really communicate effectively. Why not just get a book and study it. I can see some limited value to it. It just overall seems to me like not quite enough.I’m off to visit Ewa’s site to see if that changes my mind any.

  4. Evan says:

    Hi Mark,

    Let me know if her site changes your mind. She does give examples of the kind of exchange.

    Online counseling is certainly more limited than face to face. I do think though that some people who would never go to counseling are likely to benefit. This is the big deal – opening up a new group to counseling.

    Get back to me after you’ve looked at the site, I’d like to hear.

    Thanks for commenting.

  5. Paul says:

    Mark,

    We (www.luminentcounseling.com) prefer on-demand telephone counseling to email/IM counseling. There are advantages to both but with the telephone the therapist can use verbal clues. In general we find on-demand /on-line counseling effective when (1) a person wants to speak with a counselor now (in the moment counseling), (2) the person wants to remain anonymous, (3) the person can not speak to a counselor face to face (physical, time, or psychological limitations).

    We also believe it’s important that the counselor is state licensed.

    Good luck with your blog, it’s good to see more articles about online counseling.

  6. Evan says:

    Thanks Paul.

    Wishing you all possible success with the counseling.

  7. Great post! Indeed I often state that online counseling is not “less than” the experience of face to face counseling, it is just all together a different experience. The lack of visual and paralinguistic cues is not an impairment to the process. In fact, when these cues are not available, we use our other senses in enhanced ways.

    DeeAnna

  8. Evan says:

    Hi DeeAnna,

    I guess using the other senses would bring an intensity to the process.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  9. Jack (MA) says:

    For me online counseling is like the respectfull deconstruction and reconstruction of stories.
    “A way of exploring other dimensions, other meanings, alternative stories. Opening up the meaning as storied in online counseling. Exploring other meanings or actions. The meanings must be understood from the story \ experiences of the person in online counseling. Letters in counseling meaning as much as they can (rich / quality / thickness).” Jack (MA)

    Online counseling

  10. Evan says:

    Hi Jack,
    Beautifully put. Thanks for your comment.

  11. Tim says:

    I am a therapist in private practice and have been offering phone counseling for the past five years. I have had excellent experience with it. If you are interested in reading other case examples or about phone counseling research, please visit my website.

  12. This is a great post. Online Counselling is becoming more and more popular.

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