Online Chat Counseling (which I practice) is one of the newest in the field. It’s a part of Online Therapy. In this post, I would like to introduce you with some basics of all parts of the Online Therapy and not just the one I chose to practice.
There’s still no official definition of Online Therapy but I chose this one as most appealing:
Online Counseling and Therapy is
“…any delivery of mental or behavioral health services, including but not limited to therapy, consultation, and psycho-education, by a licensed practitioner to a client in a non-face-to-face setting through distance communication technologies such as telephone, asynchronous email, synchronous chat, and video-conference.”
(Mallen & Vogel, 2005, p. 764)
From my point of view, Online Counseling and Therapy can be put in 3 categories:
- Person to Person
- Person to AI
- Read Only Self-help
Person to Person
This would represent the synchronous (live chat, audio and video call) and asynchronous (e-mail) online conversations between the real therapist and a client. The use of technology here is just as a necessary tool giving the fact that both participants are not physically in the same place and for asynchronous type not even in the same time.
Person to AI
There are a lot of software and applications used to improve mental health of their users. Based on information gathered from the user these apps can track your mental status on daily bases, your progress (self-improvement) or more important, they can be used as tools for acute distress. For example, there are a lot of apps made to help you breathe properly in advance to calm you down during a panic attack.
Advanced computer programs are able to simulate a therapeutic conversation. In my opinion these can be good for increasing your motivation. I had to add this because, let’s be honest, nothing can replace a real therapist. These are just simulations for some basic everyday challenges.
Read Only Self-help
Web-based educational publications. This kind of Online Counseling and Therapy is most suitable for positive psychology (motivational speakers etc.). Even though I called this category Read Only it does not mean this is the place just for text publications. This include audio and video too. The big difference is just that they are not interactive.
Some would say that only the first category is therapeutic and can be called therapy. I disagree. The fact is that other two categories exclude the real therapist but does that mean they can’t be helpful? The point here is not if it’s helpful but how helpful is it. I agree that there are a lot of limitations and it can never be as successful as face-to-face therapy but that does not mean there’s no success at all. If there’s a way to help someone even just a little bit, I personally think we shouldn’t miss that chance.
Chat, as part of Online Counseling and Therapy also has a lot of limitations but on the other hand, there’s a lot of advantages.
Learn more about Pros and Cons of Online Chat Counseling and Therapy