Using e-mail, instant messaging, or other web based approaches in individual counseling allows professionals to electronically communicate with clients. Electronic communication between a therapist and a client may be the primary treatment modality, or be limited to situations when face-to-face interactions are not possible, such as between sessions or while clients are traveling. For instance, a therapist may suggest that group members communicate between sessions using e-mail.
The internet provides opportunities for private, instant communication, unlimited by geo-graphic barriers. These features, coupled with the relative low-cost and increasing access to electronic communication, are likely contributors to the current trend toward provision of online mental health services over the Internet.
The services conducted on the Internet for Mental Health have been described as online counseling, e-mail therapy, Internet-based therapy etc. Online therapy services may be provided as an adjunct to more traditional forms of mental health treatment, or may be initiated without any offline contact between the therapist and client. At present, there are a variety of websites providing information regarding online therapy.
The important question arise as online mental health treatment increases
- What extent are mental health professionals currently providing online treatment?
- What are these professionals primary concerns regarding provision of online treatment?
- Do mental health professionals have specific clinical needs related to providing online treatment?
Advantages of online mental health treatment
Online mental health treatment is easily accessible to all those who wish to use it. For example, individuals residing in rural or remote areas where there is no counseling services can benefit from the accessibility of online services.
Online therapy is convenient. With this it is possible for Both the therapist and the client to correspondence conveniently at variant of times.This style of therapy can take away the hassle of scheduling and setting appointments more common in traditional settings. This also creates an opportunity for the therapist to extend their services to more clients as appointments can be potentially scheduled over 24 hours and reach a larger geographical region.
Online mental health treatment or Online psychological Counseling has been shown to be more economical for both the therapist and the client. The therapists who has no capacity or don’t to pay willingly a rent for commercial space thereby lowering overhead costs of capital, property, commuting and administration procedures when compared to traditional counseling services.
Disadvantage of Online mental health treatment
While on one hand, the benefits of online mental health treatment or counseling have been considered, On the other hand online counseling has also been criticized in terms of its absence of verbal and nonverbal cues, difficulties in maintaining confidentiality and security, overall effectiveness, technological difficulties and in its limits of being able to guarantee the therapists credibility.
Absence of verbal and nonverbal cues
While some advantages were presented previously in the absence of verbal and non-verbal cues through online counseling, there are also disadvantages in not having such cues when counseling.
Verbal and nonverbal interactions are considered essential to understand what the client is feeling and for identifying the discrepancies or in-congruence between verbal and nonverbal behaviors. Online counseling has been criticized for lacking such important elements of the micro skills of counseling.
It is not unusual for computers to fail and internet connections to falter. For example, those who are in remote areas may have less than perfect transmission that drops out regularly or there is always the possibility of servers crashing and network connections faltering. The ability to benefit from online therapy is also partly determined by the client's computer skills and knowledge, especially if the communication setting involves installing and learning new software and/or hardware. This may disrupt the session and can potentially be distressing for the client.
Finding a Better Mental Health Counselor
To find a better mental health counselor or therapist is a very difficult task if you search it for first time.You need to consider a lot of thing before finalizing your mental health counselor or therapist.
- Identify Your needs: - First of all anybody should consider why he/she needs mental health counselor. Some questions to ask yourself may include: What symptoms have you been having? How long has the problem been going on? What areas of your life is your problem affecting (social, family, friendships, work, finance, school, romantic relationships, etc.)? How severe is the problem?
- Search for different types of mental health professionals as there are many types of professionals for different areas. Psychiatrists: - These are medical doctors that specialize in mental health. They can diagnose and treat mental health problems with medications
- Psychologists: - These have a doctoral degree in psychology and may treat or specialize in a number of mental health problems. They are often not able to prescribe medicine unless specially licensed or they work with another provider.
- Physician assistants work under the supervision of a psychiatrist or psychologist. A physician’s assistant who specializes in psychiatry and who works under the supervision of a psychiatrist may have the ability to diagnose mental health disorders, prescribe medicine, and provide psychotherapy.
- Licensed professional counselors: - These can provide psychological counseling and provide diagnosis of mental health issues. They recognize that society impacts the individual's behavior, but what the individual does and how s/he feels is ultimately his/her own responsibility.
- Check the therapist’s license:-Before you select a mental health professional, it is important to make sure that you are only considering professionals who are licensed to practice in these area
- Talk to friends and family:- Friends and family members who are in therapy may be able to help you find a good therapist. If you know that a friend or family member sees a therapist, then you might consider asking how he or she likes the therapist. If your friend or family member has good things to say, then this therapist might be someone to consider.
- Search over the internet and check its authenticity through different agencies.
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