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The pros and cons of online counselling

Today we have the luxury of more choices than ever in accessing support for mental health and emotional wellbeing via technological means - whether that be from a range of apps or online counselling services. More and more people are choosing to access online therapy via Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or through other communication services; usually for the following main reasons:

1. Convenience. Online counselling can be a great way to fit in sessions at a time, day and place that suits you. For those with a busy or erratic schedule this can be a helpful way around fitting in regular therapy sessions.

2. Accessibility. Remote therapy is also ideal for those travelling or restricted in their location or travel capacity.

3. Affordability. Usually online counselling is less costly than face to face sessions due to therapist overheads. Online therapy also avoids costs of travelling to meet a therapist too.

4. Flexibility. Often it is easier to arrange sessions at short notice or to change around appointments to fit into your changing plans or schedule.

5. Psycho-education. The kinds of psychotherapy that are ideally suited for Skype or FaceTime sessions include person-centred counselling and other approaches that tend to be more pragmatic. Focused cognitive approaches (like CBT therapy) incorporate practical tips and structured tasks to work on in between sessions that help support you towards better wellbeing and psychological health. Mindfulness and somatic awareness are also suited for online counselling sessions.

The downsides however, can include;

1. Limitations. Not all psychotherapy approaches are suited for online. EMDR therapy for example is best done in person, 1-2-1 with an experienced therapist. Also, depending on the issues you would like to work on. Some issues, particularly more complex concerns are much more appropriate to work on with a professional in person.

2. Reliance on technology. Relying on technology invariably involves times when you will be let down by technology; poor connection, cut offs, or privacy concerns can interfere with the therapy.

3. Distance in communication. By the nature of sessions via video call, some vital communication, especially non-verbal communication / body language can get missed or misinterpreted on both sides. Online therapy can lack the immediacy and intimacy that face to face sessions can bring.

4. Not covered by insurance. Many health insurance companies will not cover online counselling. It is best to check with your individual provider for guidance.

5. Therapist skills. Accessing therapy online means you could be speaking to somebody based anywhere in the world and there may be some differences in level of qualification and training. It is also important to check that your online counsellor is adequately experienced.

Dr. Sarah Davies offers online counselling sessions throughout the week. Please get in touch for more information or to book.

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