It is generally accepted, by all but diehard sceptics, that therapy can be very constructive and the relief of stress, anxiety and other milder psychological ailments. It is not to be conflated for treatment for severe neuroses or psychological conditions, but for general mental maintenance, it is largely respected as an excellent way to handle problems.
The question is, can online counselling work too? It’s an understandable question, because for all anyone knows, that in-person experience, with the setting of an office, that stepping out of a traditional comfort zone, could be critical in the effectiveness of psychological and emotional therapy.
Well, perhaps it’s no surprise that I don’t have an end-all answer to this question, but I do think it’s a discussion worth having, and a question worth unpacking a little bit. So, let’s talk about how therapy generally works, and let’s see how many of the boxes online counselling can check.
Unlike seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist during more severe situations, therapy is really about providing guidance for someone to analyze themselves, with informed interjection and a skill for listening. Really, a skilled therapist is more of a guide for someone climbing the mountain that is their own set of problems, rather than diagnosing and treating psychological issues. This isn’t to undersell the necessity for skill, nor the good work that a skilled therapist does, but it is a distinct thing all its own.
Thus, the most important thing, at the end of the day, is someone that can communicate, listen and provide that input where necessary, but it doesn’t ultimately matter exactly how this is handled. Simple use of a program like discord, zoom, Skype or anything else that allows at least real-time voice communication, if not voice and video, should be more than sufficient.
The thing with therapy, including online counselling in the situation, is that the self-journey, guided rather than controlled by a therapist, is self-empowering. At the end of it all, you arrive at your conclusions, you arrive at your breakthroughs, and a therapist was just there to keep you on course, and maybe point out things you may have missed as you hiked the trail.
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What’s the verdict?
I would say that, with some exceptions, online counselling should be every bit as effective in helping you work through any emotional issues, especially things like anxiety, as traditional in-office counselling. There are exceptions to this when trading things where stepping out of your comfort zone is critical in treatment. Unfortunately, at this particular time in history, if you are suffering from some sort of anxiety about leaving your home, it’s kind of founded, where it otherwise may not have been. Thus, while that would be the one limitation to online counselling, I would say that it’s a limitation that is rather moot for the time being.
Whether it’s online counselling or regular, in-office counselling/therapy, an intelligent, skilled therapist can help you not only identify your issues but help guide you on the right path to overcome these issues, under your own power. If you are suffering from anxiety, depression, or really any other sort of psychological, emotional imbalance that is affecting not only the quality of your life but that of those who care about you, you owe it to yourself to seek out help. There is no shame in this, it is only a failure on your part if you don’t get the help you need, certainly not a failure for needing it.