Despite the best attempts to try to regulate counselling practice and therapy, paying for any service will always be, to some extent, a matter of ‘let the buyer beware’. A professional online counsellor or therapist will only work within his or her competencies. If you are considering online counselling, you can make some enquiries of the practitioner that may reduce the risks involved.
Choosing a Counsellor or Therapist
Choose a counsellor or therapist who is a member of a reputable professional association and has insurance to practice. Membership of a professional body means the practitioner has some degree of accountability for their work. You can also check with the association to ensure they are who they say they are.
If you have any particular concerns, write them down and send them to the therapist or ask for a preliminary conversation to discuss these issues. These may include matters like qualifications, privacy and confidentiality, technical problems and payment. I encourage people to shop around for a counsellor or therapist they feel comfortable with, just as you would do if you needed to choose a new doctor, mechanic, decorator or architect.
In terms of who an online counsellor should and should not see, there are no hard and fast rules for this. In my own practice, I do not make myself available to people who are at any significant risk of personal danger or if there is extreme urgency to the situation. I work with individuals and couples from all around the world so I am not in a position to easily engage local emergency services. If the situation is one of domestic violence or recent sexual assault for example, I direct people to contact a GP or their nearest public hospital. Medical professionals and institutions are usually much better resourced to find the most appropriate help for anyone in such a situation.
Who Are the Most Suitable Clients for Online Counselling?
You don’t need to be isolated or disabled or even short of time to choose an online therapist. Meeting with a therapist or counsellor over the Internet can be just as effective as consulting a practitioner who is in the same room. Online counselling is suitable for those who want to discuss anxiety or depression, relationship issues, sexuality concerns, confidence, shyness, addiction, career problems, burnout or difficulties with life direction and purpose. In fact almost anything you might talk about with a therapist in person can be explored with a competent and professional online therapist.
Thinking about going ahead with online counselling? You can send me an email. I welcome your comments.
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One response to “Risk, Safety and Effectiveness in Internet Based Counselling”
[…] and offer to send you session notes electronically over email. This is also a way of increasing the effectiveness of therapy. When you start thinking about how many therapy practices there are and how many people commute to […]