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What Is Online Psychological Counseling?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 17, 2024
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Online psychological counseling is a new option for many people who, for whatever reason, cannot visit a therapist in person or simply do not want to. It allows individuals to discuss their issues one on one with a psychologist, through various mediums such as email, direct chat, and instant messaging, or by communicating via a webcam. When pursuing online psychological counseling, it is important to make sure that the person on the other side of the line holds a Ph.D. in psychology, and is licensed to practice; additional certifications exist for online counseling. The qualifications to practice online do not differ from the requirements to practice anywhere else.

There are numerous benefits to online psychological counseling. Some people may be too busy to fit in a weekly appointment, but have time to send emails. Others may feel uncomfortable discussing their problems in person, but find that talking on the phone or on instant messaging allows them to be more open. Others may simply live in a remote area. Pursuing psychological counseling online allows these people to get all the benefits of therapy while fitting it in to their own lifestyle.

In nearly all cases, anyone pursuing online psychological counseling will meet with the same therapist each week, even if there are a number of different therapists in the practice. This allows the client to develop a good rapport and a relationship with the therapist, and begin to feel more comfortable. If the individual is unhappy with the therapist he or she is working with, it is certainly possible to switch to a different one and try again. This is another benefit to online psychological counseling; it is much easier to locate a different therapist, since no one is limited by travel time.

Online psychological counseling exists for people with many different needs. This can include everything from marriage counseling to substance abuse therapy to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) counseling. Usually, any sort of online psychological counseling requires up-front payment. In can be more difficult to find a counselor that will accept health insurance, but as it becomes more common, it is likely that more counselors will begin accepting certain types of health insurance for services. For anyone who feels that they need a little extra help to get through a certain stressful time or a particular issue, online counseling can be a good and flexible option for this.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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