Объединенное сообщество психологического консультирования
Online counseling: myth or reality?

Anistratenko Tatyana Grigorievna

candidate of political sciences, Professor Department of regional science and Eurasian Research Institute of sociology and regional studies Southern Federal University

The President of Joint Russian Association for Psychological Counselling

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Treatment without meetings ...

Help out of real contact ...

Online counseling: myth or reality?

The feature of the modern world development stage is stressfull society. This is the explainable reaction to political changes, economic instability, terrorist threats, development of urbanization. The need to strengthen mental stability is evident for all the people of the planet, regardless of the country, residence, race, religion, etc.

A person needs to restore and maintain mental health.

Physical health + mental health = life’s success.

Psychological counseling helps to gain mental health.

To find high-quality therapy is not easy: sometimes long, sometimes expensive, etc. There is a need for a high level of trust between the consultant, therapist, and client, the patient to create a therapeutic alliance. In this subject-oriented form of business, the format of counseling plays an important role in obtaining results. It affects the improvement of the quality of life and satisfaction with it.

Experts study various models and formats of counseling, which are represented by new possibilities of information technology.

Remote consultation based on correspondence gains popularity. Websites allow people to find the therapist worldwide.

Consulting online applications and video chats reduce the waiting list for a reception, but it raises doubts about the effectiveness of this practice.

Faster, cheaper yes, but is it effective?!

Let's try to consider this…

Remote, correspondence-based counseling is gaining popularity in different countries.

Babylon (Great Britain) offers a therapy for 150,000 active users, and PlusGuidance online counseling has 10,000 users. The American BetterHelp service also has 150,000 registered users in the UK (although not all of them are active).Talkspace, another online therapy platform, reports that it has 500,000 registered users worldwide, most of them in the US.

One of the advantages of online therapy is the effect of "disinhibition ", "security", when people feel more comfortable, more openly at home on the couch, and not in the therapist's office. But there are concerns about the quality of online therapy and its real safety.

Eric Berne said: " A psychologist to himself as a dentist to himself - it's painful, uncomfortable and fraught with consequences." The client hardly put yourself diagnosis, qualitatively will track your own reactions and develop a correct therapeutic rate.

A person who seeks help from a psychotherapist or a consultant, verbally denotes his problem, while demonstrating additional information about himself, his habits, life scenario with the help of facial expressions, gestures, articulation, i.e., he speaks "body language".This "truth of the body" is an important source of information. Coincidence or discrepancy with speech messages serve as therapeutic material. Thus, interpersonal therapy increases the number of factors that influence the successful outcome…

Online contact: Skype, FaceTime, video conferencing etc. such a reflection of verbal and non-verbal messages can be distorted due to technical characteristics and impose dangerous adjustments to therapy.

It seems difficult for a therapist or a consultant to identify the meaning of the problem if it operates only partial or distorted information.

There are strengthening and increase in therapeutic’s risks.

What works for one person may not work for someone else.

What is the best option ?

Refuse from online counseling or reconstruct interpersonal counseling ?

The truth as always in the middle — in cooperation and a compromise of methods.

If interpersonal therapy is successful, it can be added with an on-line counseling format that the client can use to maintain results, being in a crisis situation or for therapy prolongation.

For me, the optimal format for online counseling is a telephone session, which, on the one hand, is devoid of visualization, but on the other hand it makes it possible to track the rhythm of breathing, its frequency, delays and pauses, the speech timbre, its activity, emotionality, response reflexivity, sensitivity, and so on.

The telephone session lasts up to 30 minutes, is paid as a full-time session and, with reduced efficiency, is an acceptable compromise for the effective continuation of therapy.

In my practice, there were variants of the development of therapeutic interactions that began in the interpersonal format and continued in the online model in whole or in part, as well as reverse variants that arose on the phone as a result of the protection of other clients and further developed in an interpersonal format.

Any options of the choice of model of consultation are possible.

The main thing is to achive the qualitative result for you.

Look for your path and be happy.