Online counselling, also known as e-counselling or teletherapy, is a counselling service conducted through the internet. Traditionally, people shun online counselling and attend counselling at the therapist's office. However, online counselling has grown in popularity and become more acceptable due to the social distancing measures caused by COVID-19. As we adjust to the post-pandemic, some people may wonder if they should stop online counselling and revert to the in-person meetings, while others may wonder if online counselling is as effective as in-person meetings.
Research shows that online counselling is almost as effective as attending physical sessions. In 2018, a compiled analysis of 20 studies with over 1,400 participants treated for anxiety and depression using Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) yielded a similar satisfaction level for those attending online and in-person sessions. In the same year, another study also showed that people who sought help for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) online reported reduced symptoms similar with those who attended the physical session. In 2020, a study using Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT) randomly assigned participants to take either online counselling or in-person sessions and found that online and physical meetings yield similar results in terms of satisfaction level. These studies conclude that various mental health challenges can be successfully treated online, such as work stress, PTSD, depression and anxiety.
There are other benefits of online counselling. Attending online counselling saves time and travel expenses. People with hectic schedules, such as students and parents with young children, can also benefit from the flexibility of scheduling sessions online at their convenience. Online counselling is also an excellent alternative for people who regularly travel due to their job, e.g. people in the aviation industry and those who travel for business. Another group that may benefit from online counselling is those with social anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). They may find online counselling less intimidating than travelling to the therapist's office.
Online counselling may not be for everyone. It may not be suitable for people with complex trauma, intense suicidal ideation, psychosis, and living in an abusive relationship because of the high risk involved. Another concern is privacy. While it is convenient to see a therapist from the comfort of your own home, it is essential to ensure that you have a safe and quiet room with a good internet connection and headphones to attend the therapy session. Lagging and poor internet connection will lead to frustration and disrupt the session.
Online counselling is an effective alternative to in-person meetings at the therapist's office. It is especially suitable for people with busy schedules in this post-pandemic era. However, there are limitations to the type of cases that may benefit from online counselling, and logistic such as privacy and good internet connection is essential to help make the online counselling sessions effective.
Restoring Peace Counselling & Consultancy offers both online counselling and in-person therapy services. Scaling options are available for online counselling. For more information, please visit www.restoringpeace.com.sg or Whatsapp us at +65 8889 1848.
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