Online counseling is a service that addresses mental health issues and is provided via video call, chat, phone, or email. Today, psychological support and counseling are much easier to acquire than before.
Location used to be important, but those days are long gone. Nowadays, many licensed counselors and therapists have an online presence, making it simple and comfortable for you to find treatment within the comfort of your home.
Like any in-person therapy, online counseling focuses on helping you acknowledge, understand, and gradually change the way you perceive thoughts, emotions, and behaviours that affect your mental health. It provides you with an opportunity to talk and interact in a setting that’s more conducive and convenient than visiting a therapist’s office.
Factors To Consider While Selecting A Right Online Counselor or Therapist
Let’s look at some factors you need to consider when selecting a right online counselor or therapist.
Determine your needs – Understand what you intend to gain from therapy. The clearer your mind is regarding your therapy goals, the easier it will be to review your progress. This will also assist you in determining whether you can benefit the most from therapy.
For instance, you might need help addressing a specific mental health concern. Or you might want to voice your worries and talk about something that’s been bothering you for a while now. Whatever the reason, you can communicate with an online counselor and ensure these concerns are addressed in the session.
Assess your compatibility with potential counselors – If you’re transitioning from in-person to online therapy, it’s better to keep certain things in mind. You might not succeed in finding the right online counselor on your first try. That’s totally okay!
Going through a few counselors before settling on the right professional is always better than working with someone who doesn’t understand your mental health needs.
For instance, would you prefer interacting with someone of the same gender? Or would you be more comfortable talking to someone who is older, younger, or more or less your age? Something that you may also want to consider is sexual orientation. There are many counselors who are queer affirmative and offer pride counseling online. Thus, look for a counselor whose background is aligned with your therapy goals to make this process easier.
Schedule an initial consultation – When doubts linger about how online counseling works, you’ll probably have questions and concerns about the whole process. Scheduling an initial consultation with an online counselor is a wonderful way to get your questions answered and have a general understanding of how the process works. Some questions that come up during consultation include:
- What does an online session look and feel like?
- How long will you be receiving therapy online?
- How much does an online session cost?
- What are the cancellation policies and steps for rescheduling a session?
An online counselor’s ability to assist you with your emotional turmoil can be determined after a quick discussion of the problems and symptoms you’re currently dealing with. As a result, you have more clarity and are prepared for your online counseling sessions.
Scheduling and availability – Online counseling is a good choice if your schedule is unpredictable. To make it convenient for you both, you might wish to find out your online counselor’s availability and schedule. You can select a weekend session or probably after-work online sessions, depending on how busy your day is. For instance, some people may prioritise weekly sessions, while others may prefer to only attend a few sessions each month.
Review counselor profile – Counselors and therapists do have an online presence. By reading their bio, you can get a sense of their values and ethics, along with how they intend to support you in therapy by being genuine, empathetic, and understanding.
A strong therapeutic relationship can be built between you and your counselor by working cohesively to make you feel like you can trust them. Other things you may get to know by accessing their profile are if your online counselor is multilingual, if they work with certain demographics, their area of expertise, and whether they are trauma-informed.
Credentials and qualifications – One needs to have a minimum Master of Arts or MSc in Applied Clinical or Counseling Psychology for them to qualify as your counselor or therapist. The course includes internships in hospitals, mental health clinics, schools, and NGOs, along with dissertation and research work for them to complete in order to receive their respective degrees.
Privacy concern – Mental health professionals practise complete and utmost confidentiality with regard to your online sessions. A client’s participation in therapy as well as its contents are both confidential. Your identity as a client is also protected when an online counselor:
- Does not disclose your personal information through email or text
- Does not acknowledge you, the client, first outside of a therapeutic setting
- Does not divulge session information to a third party without your consent
So, what you say stays in the session.
But, there’s an exception to this. Counselors can break confidentiality in some circumstances when:
- There’s a threat to your life, or someone’s trying to physically harm you
- You’re a danger to someone’s well-being or intend to assault them, and
- You’re a threat to yourself or have thoughts of self-harm
In situations like these, your online counselor will notify your emergency contact, who can help ensure you are safe and seek hospitalization if required.
Session length – An online session is booked for an hour. However, a segment of time known as the ‘therapeutic hour’ can range from 40 to 55 minutes. That’s when your online session takes place. During extra time, the counselor takes notes, goes over key elements that were discussed, gives homework, and schedules an appointment for your next session. Depending on the type of mental health service you’re receiving, your online counselor will give you an idea of the length of your session.
Be prepared to put in efforts: In order to manage your emotional concerns, you’re going to have to revisit your past, acknowledge unhelpful thinking and behaviour patterns and be ready to work on yourself. It can get scary and intimidating. But, you need not address all your concerns at one go. With your online counselor’s help and guidance, this can be achieved bit by bit.
When online therapy isn’t an option for you – Life comes with its own set of complications and challenges. When someone is severely depressed, unable to function in daily life, feeling suicidal, experiencing active abuse, or in other acute crises, it may be difficult for them to find online mental health support. As overwhelming as it may seem, one can try to reach out to a trusted friend or confidant and let them know what they are going through. There are organisations and agencies that help and support people who are suicidal, going through abuse, or in the midst of a crisis.
Contact Us For Online Therapy
Choosing a right online counselor can be a confusing process. But, we are here to make it easier for you.
Click below to schedule an appointment.
Open up to your online counsellor and allow yourself to express your emotions. The more honest you are about how you truly feel, the better your counselor or therapist will be able to assist you. The whole idea here is to ensure that you feel comfortable when interacting with your therapist.
Feelings of overwhelm do arise when you know you’ve got to talk about things that aren’t pleasant. It can be disturbing to relive painful memories or remember traumatic events during your online session. However, let that not deter you from taking that leap of faith and beginning your healing journey with the right online counselor.
If you feel ready to embark on the journey of online counseling, we’re here to help.
Stay well, stay happy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Psychological Counseling encourages open and honest dialogue about issues that cause you distress. Through your relationship with your therapist, you’ll work to identify and understand how these stressors are impacting your life, and learn ways to cope with them.
At Inner Space, we have found it most useful for us to match the therapist with the client, instead of letting the client choose one of our therapists. We know our therapists and we know the kind of challenges they are able to best address. For instance if it is a relationship difficulty some therapists are more qualified to deal with it, or if it is a trauma or abuse issue then other therapists are more qualified to work with that difficulty. Hence we understand the nature of your difficulty briefly and then match you with the therapist suited best for you.
Our therapists are psychologists with a Post Graduate Degree in Clinical or Counseling Psychology. We do not hire people with diplomas or short-term training courses. They are all personally hired and interviewed by our founder Sadia Saeed who is a trained Clinical Psychologist and has been practicing for over 23 years. She not only ensures their qualification but also verifies their therapeutic approach. We believe it is very important that our therapists come from a supportive and exploratory approach rather than an advisory one.
About the Author
This article was written by Firdaus Moraes, Counselor at Inner Space. This post was consulted & approved by professional therapists practicing online therapy and mindfulness.