Online counseling refers to the process of providing mental health services on the internet as opposed to traditional face-to-face therapy sessions. Depending on the client’s needs and preferences, both pros and cons are associated with remote counseling. The advantages of e-counseling include convenience, accessibility, long-distance support, flexibility, therapeutic intimacy, and additional opportunities for communication, while the disadvantages are unreliable technology, lack of nonverbal communication, and inefficiency for serious mental health problems.
One of the primary advantages of online therapy is its convenience and accessibility. Clients can receive treatment without having to commute to the therapist’s office. This option can be particularly convenient for people from remote areas and individuals with physical limitations. Given the COVID-19 limitations, online therapy provides long-distance support and greater flexibility with regard to appointment time. Furthermore, according to Weinberg and Rolnick (2020), by offering new ways of forming psychotherapeutic relationships with different clients, online therapy “may foster therapeutic intimacy in ways that in-person psychotherapy cannot” (p. 63). For example, it can be beneficial for people who do not feel comfortable opening up during face-to-face sessions. Weinberg and Rolnick (2020) emphasize that counselors can “see facial emotional responses much more clearly during video conferences,” which is another unique feature of e-counseling (p. 20). Finally, messaging services create additional opportunities for communication between the counselor and the client.
In turn, unreliable technology and insufficient nonverbal communication are the primary disadvantages of online therapy. The lack of body language cues or vocal signals can present additional challenges for the client and the therapist. Finally, for some people, this mode of communication might not be as effective as in-person sessions. In particular, individuals with serious mental illnesses might require face-to-face counseling and immediate treatment to achieve therapeutic outcomes (Weinberg & Rolnick, 2020). To conclude, remote counseling can be both beneficial and challenging for different clients and therapeutic goals.
Weinberg, H., & Rolnick, A. (Eds.). (2020). Theory and practice of online therapy: Internet-delivered interventions for individuals, groups, families, and organizations. Routledge.