I’d not heard of Zoom 6 months ago. OK – that’s not quite true. If you had asked me what Zoom was I would have recalled the much loved ice lollipop from my childhood. But since lockdown, Zoom has become the tool that has kept me in touch with my family and friends and allowed me to continue working and studying. It’s an online app that allows you to ‘meet’ with other people (or groups) using both video and sound.
Before lockdown, it’s fair to say that a few counsellors were offering online sessions, now it is much more widely available as the profession has quickly acquired the specific skills needed to be able to ethically offer high quality counselling online.
Why was online counselling not as widely available prior to the pandemic? Perhaps because there was a sense that working online was ‘second best’, that it was a last resort if meeting face to face wasn’t possible. It seems obvious to say that it’s not the same as being physically present in the same room, but many clients and counsellors would testify that there is a unique and valuable connection between client and counsellor that can happen online.
In reality, online counselling sessions get results and there are particular benefits:
Travel time – there isn’t any. No travel costs either which can be a big plus if you are already finding it hard to pay for the therapy itself.
Geography doesn’t matter – you can access the counsellor that feels right for you whether they live three or three hundred miles away.
You are anonymous to the outside world. For some clients, going to a counsellor’s therapy room is a challenge. Perhaps they are worried that someone will see them going in. For others, difficulty leaving their own home may be part of the problem that they are seeking help with.
Access to counselling can be more flexible and sometimes more readily available online.
Online therapy isn’t suitable for everyone and there are some issues to consider, for example:
Do you have access to a computer that can run the program?
Do you have a space in your home where you can maintain confidentiality and not be interrupted or overheard?
Is the issue you are bringing to counselling suitable for working online?
Talking with a counsellor would help you to decide whether or not working online is right for you.
So, online counselling – maybe not second best after all.