Advantages and disadvantages over traditional in person psychotherapy :

As the term suggests e-counseling refers to any type of psychological service provided through any medium of communication like, e-mails, telephonic counseling, chat and webcam counselling. With the growing technologies, clients have increasingly become more inclined to this form of counseling.  Like every other innovative idea, the concept of e-counseling also has its pros and cons over the traditional in person psychotherapy both for the client and the therapist.

Looking at the pros this form of counseling is more accessible as it is not bounded by time and geography.  It is less costly.  A degree of anonymity gives some clients greater sense of control over the therapy session to openly discuss their issues, thus making them more comfortable.  For the therapist this type of counseling saves on the cost of an impressive set up. 

But , looking at the cons, during e-counseling the therapist cannot use the silent language which works very effectively in a therapeutic   relationship except sometimes when in a webcam session.  Also when the client communicates from his home or during his day to day schedule there can be disruptions which can surely affect the flow of therapy.  In some cases depending on the medium of call (Skype etc.) the client is also suspicious if the calls are being monitored.

The therapist also faces the challenges of nuisance callers, regular callers, crisis calls that require immediate physical intervention like suicide calls etc.  Another  drawback is that while in a face to face session, it is difficult for a client to leave, if he feels little uncomfortable with the therapist in the initial few minutes, but in an e-counselling session the client can just end the conversation to suit his convenience.

Research shows that e-counseling  specially telephone counseling works better with depressive patients.  A study reveals that almost 58% of clients who had experienced both traditional and phone counseling prefer phone counseling and I believe the percentage would increase in future.

          Vidhi Pipara Adolescent Psychologist- Guidance on personal or psychological problems in Ahmedabad,Gujarat and India.

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