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  • Writer's pictureMark Shoemaker

Is Online Counseling Right for You?

Given COVID-19, a lot of people are worried about leaving their homes. This is 100 percent appropriate, and because of that, as therapists, we have been transitioning several clients over to tele-video counseling with concern for ourselves and our clients. We want to do our best in promoting social distancing, while continuing to offer quality counseling, to reduce the number of people being affected by the virus. While several people are deciding to use online counseling, some are on the fence. This is for you.

Before I started tele-counseling, I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical. Even as a clinician. After a big move, I was forced to make a decision between changing careers or giving online counseling a shot. It took awhile for me to make a decision because online counseling is relatively new and I wanted to make sure that if I committed to something that my clients would be able to benefit from it. If tele-counseling isn’t effective, and people aren’t able to connect, then count me out. Here is what I have learned so far about who is and is not a good fit for tele-counseling.

Anyone CAN be a good fit

What I have noticed is that, for the most part, there aren’t specific problems or issues that make someone a good or bad fit for seeing a therapist via online counseling. You can struggle with marriage issues, depression, anxiety, anger, etc. and make substantial progress through online counseling. If both you and your therapist are invested in the process, then you can make huge strides through online counseling just as you would meeting in person. So, the biggest component is COMMITMENT. This extends beyond online counseling to just counseling in general. I never ask clients to give more than they can, just what they have to give. That is how you will get the most from counseling.

Environment Matters

A very important part of online counseling is to have a space for sessions where you are distraction-free. This means you need to have a space where the tv is not playing, family or friends are not within earshot, and there are no pets that might cause distraction (although this can depend on the person). This seems like a pretty big ask, but one of the most important components of success in therapy is the ability to focus and give everything that you have to the process. Remember the commitment thing? If you don’t think that you have a place where that is possible, it might be best to seek out a therapist to meet with in person.

Have a Good Connection

Another factor to consider before signing up for tele-counseling is to have a good internet connection. This could be through your phone or home wi-fi. Regardless, if you can facetime or video chat, you are probably good to go.

Need for Convenience

A lot of my clients have a high need for convenience. Throughout the day we get used to going from here to there for work, school, errands, etc. Sometimes it’s comforting to have the convenience to just log in from wherever you are to start your counseling session instead of making the drive to the office.


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