Online counseling has been popular way before the COVID-19 crisis occurred. It has become an option to psychotherapy or is made complementary to it. However, due to the outbreak, physically seeing your counselor may have been difficult. You were compelled to be confined at home to contain the virus. There was limited movement due to adherence to strict protocols. Gladly, counselors saw this as an opportunity to extend their services online. Today, there is a surging wave of providers who cater to clients regardless of geographical location.
Online counseling — also identified as e-therapy, teletherapy, telepsychology, telemental health, cyber counseling — may be an appealing alternative to traditional therapy, particularly during a lockdown. Some mental health consumers often see this as economical and accessible. It allows individuals to receive aid in the comfort of their homes. Likewise, online counseling may serve as a buffer for all the stressors that continuously surround you.
How Does Online Counseling Work?
With this form of counseling, a therapist, according to Ainsworth and Postel, gets actively involved with a client to form a continuous, professional counseling relationship through communications that are:
- Synchronous – taking place at the same time, e.g., live chat, phone calls, real-time text messaging
- Asynchronous – taking place back and forth over a while, e.g. email; or
- A combination of both.
Counseling can be done through any device you’d prefer. This means you can always pick up your phone or laptop and head to a private spot for your session.
Mental Health During The Lockdown
We cannot disregard the escalating mental health problems that many have experienced during the lockdown. Factors such as social isolation, job loss or irregular income, loss of a loved one, a constant stream of tragic news, and social unrest arose amid the pandemic. These factors have taken a significant toll on our mental health. Likewise, such factors may have increased the stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms of many. These may have led to a surge in alcohol and substance abuse as a mechanism for coping with all of these events.
Being amidst social unrest can give you intense emotions. These can unearth thoughts and feelings that may affect you because of the scale of the situation. Read more on this article to know how social unrest is affecting people, particularly those who are vulnerable to psychological distress.
The impact of protests added to the fear that surrounds the outbreak has created a fiery situation for social unrest. Quite possibly, the situation could go on for months.
With all of these unfortunate occurrences, it is no doubt individuals have encountered symptoms of certain mental conditions.
The Benefits of Online Counseling During Lockdown
The accumulating stressors during the lockdown are inconceivable. The way we respond to these challenges may contribute to the state of our mental space. This is why it is relevant to have mental health care and support that serve as your buffer in times like these.
Additionally, with the emergence of online counseling, many are able to get counseling services in the comfort of their homes. This type of therapy may have its limitations; however, its fast-growing support from consumers has become remarkable, particularly during the lockdown.
Here are the advantages of online counseling during the lockdown
Due to strict adherence to safety measures, movement is limited during the quarantine. Likewise, even before the outbreak, mobility is one of the prominent concerns when it comes to accessing mental health care. At the same time, a therapist who is delivering services at a clinic may not be available to cater all potential clients as a result of quarantine protocols.
With the aid of technology, clinicians can provide mental health care during the lockdown. Likewise, people who previously had no access to traditional therapy can benefit from this form of counseling. Counselors can extend services at greater distances, and clients can receive help from wherever they are.
Online therapy may be an effective treatment to numerous mental health issues. This is exciting news, especially for those who are situated in rural areas that have limited or no access to mental health care and treatment.
Additionally, people with mobility issues can benefit from the service too. This includes those who cannot move around because of lack of transportation.
Life in lockdown has compelled everyone to stay indoors. This may have become a barrier that pushed you to disregard the significance of attending therapy. However, with the presence and convenience of online therapy, attending therapy can be a welcome idea.
The hassle-free scheduling of appointments and the privacy of your own home (or wherever you may currently be situated) are huge factors for consumers to seek therapy. These advantages allow others to try therapy for the first time too.
The new work arrangement may have bombarded you with responsibilities from both work and the household. However, with therapy sessions done online, individuals can set a schedule on their free time. This makes online therapy more appealing.
Alongside these perks, online counseling saves you more time as there is no more travel involved. This eliminates delay and allows you to consistently attend your session.
The COVID-19 outbreak has produced apprehension in people about going outdoors. This has led many to de-prioritize counseling sessions. Gladly, online counseling allows you to adhere to social distancing protocols without compromising connection. It secures your physiological well-being without risking your mental health care.
The best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle during the quarantine is not limited to physical activities. It also comprises taking care of one’s mental space. Online counseling may serve as a reliable outlet in releasing all the stress and anxiety you’re experiencing at this time. With a professional who will guide you, you to feel at ease in processing your emotions.
Additionally, the benefit of online counseling is not limited to physical safety. With the proper state laws that govern your area, you’re also secured from data privacy issues. However, it still pays to check the privacy rules and standards of the online counseling platform you’re using.
Trust and confidentiality are regarded as fundamental cornerstones of therapy. It’s an added value to know that your online sessions will stay private.
Doing online therapy also means cashless transactions. Money, plastic or not, does not have to be physically handled. This decreases the factors that can spread the virus.
4. Eases stigma
Dr. Greg Lengel, a psychology professor at Drake, stated that these therapy stigmas come from a lack of education in addition to one’s personal backgrounds and beliefs.
Lengel added that much of the shame related to getting mental health services comes from a few issues. There is insufficient information and inaccurate media portrayals of mental conditions and psychotherapy. Moreover, personal, familial and cultural norms can create biases against mental health treatment. People may then refuse to seek help due to these colored and inaccurate perceptions regarding mental health conditions. This may lead to detrimental self-medication.
It’s good, therefore, that some online counseling services allow anonymity of clients. This allows individuals to try therapy even if they are wary of societal stigma.
Online counseling gradually eliminates the shame associated with receiving help from therapy. You don’t need to think twice about being seen entering a therapist’s clinic.
With online counseling, individuals may no longer feel hesitant to share the lingering issues in their lives. This may encourage people to express their concerns exhaustively to the therapist. Stigma is likely the biggest factor preventing people from getting help for their mental, emotional, and psychological concerns.
Due to job loss and other financial difficulties, individuals may no longer be able to afford the costs of face-to-face therapy. However, during the lockdown, consumers can access online counseling treatment at a much reasonable price.
This medium may lower service fees of therapy because it is mainly conducted at home with the use of the Internet. Hence, it’s more affordable and economical for both the counselor and client. On the counselor’s end, this also reduces the burden of investing in real property. There’ll be no real need to rent a space for a clinic or to even hire assistants, cutting down on operational costs.
Some online counseling platforms may offer a series of subscription choices and services. These may likewise have flexible payment options. Others may accept insurance. However, if the current counseling medium does not accept insurance, it may provide other alternatives instead. Some online therapists may offer inexpensive treatment services to clients who are not covered by any health insurance.
Gladly, many states currently require insurance providers to extend their scope of services. States are calling in insurance companies to cover online therapy just as they would in traditional therapy sessions. With this, it’s an advantage when you’re well-informed regarding how e-therapy treatments will be covered by your policy.
Online counseling is flexible because it allows both the counselor and client to have counseling sessions within the time-frame they prefer. This gives an opportunity for clinicians to manage their time for other clients.
When it comes to setting appointments, you may designate schedules around other responsibilities at home. For instance, you can have your session before breakfast if the therapist is available anyway. This can be an appealing way of incorporating therapy in your routine.
Additionally, the flexibility of online counseling does not stop there. With its various communication mediums, you may be provided with the option to choose which you would prefer most. Some individuals may be more comfortable through phone calls. While others are more at ease when emotions are written and emailed to counselors.
Communication via the Internet is majorly executed in writing. This may be through instant messaging, chat, or email. It’s believed that during this chaotic time, there may be individuals who would prefer writing as their approach toward emotional recovery. Notably, writing enables people to process and express themselves in a thoughtful way. This is regarded as an effective intervention in therapy.
With all of this versatility, consumers may be encouraged to get online therapy services as convenience is practically at the tip of their fingers.
Tips on How to Make the Most out of Your Online Counseling Session
Online counseling provides you with the privilege and opportunity to take care of your mental health. Hence, you must make the most out of your therapy sessions. The following suggestions may help you do this:
- Carve out time and stick to your schedule when attending therapy.
- Designate a strict place in your house for online counseling session.
- Lean into the unique perks of online counseling.
- Learn to gradually open up and be upfront.
- Be patient with your progress.
- Practice vocally identifying your emotions, in the absence of bodily cues.
- Provide feedback to your therapist.
Online Counseling during this Ongoing Pandemic
The transition may be difficult as people hop into an uncharted medium of therapy. Whether you’re a counselor or a client, there will be adjustments to accommodate in this new normal.
While it can be an intimidating change, online psychotherapy may function as a reliable support system, especially during this time of crisis. With social isolation, financial difficulties, and other challenges during this pandemic, this form of therapy may be your ally in protecting your mental space. Moreover, with a lot of online therapy platforms to choose from, you can freely identify what is most suitable to you.
Notably, seeking therapy is a form of self-care. Some may be more susceptible to stressors; hence, online therapy may aid individuals cope and process their thoughts and emotions more effectively.
There are a lot of advantages that you can lean on from attending online therapy. From its accessibility to its flexibility, a counseling session may be worth your while.
Pandemics are such difficult times. You may need tools such as online counseling to cope healthily and to aid you in understanding not just yourself, but others as well.