Counselling over the Internet offers many advantages and has a kind of charm that attracts more and more people interested in this form of mental health services. Probably the most important are the following features:
The flexibility of time and place/virtual space. The online therapist can usually easily offer flexible and convenient dates and times.
Security. You can protect your data, and do not even have to show your face if you choose the option of contact without video camera contact.
Convenience. You can decide about where you meet with a therapist for a session (home, Internet café, or even somewhere in the city where you can access the network).
The online counseling process usually progresses faster, because it’s easier to open up and to analyze personal difficulties.
There are some limitations however, mainly of a technical nature, and the fact that non-verbal clues could be limited, if a client decides not to use the camera.
Certain mental health issues are not eligible for online counselling. Please check the link ‘Risk groups’.
Psychology of the Internet
Ben-Ze’ev (Ben-Zeev, 2005), argues that the charm of the Internet lies in the availability of the network, imagination, interactivity and anonymity.
Availability in cyberspace promises rapid entering into an alternate reality, enabling easy use of many options readily available within a reach of click. Finding a person and performing a certain action is simpler, inexpensive, and requires no effort.
Imagination makes the Internet attractive and with no restrictions (apart from the technological constraints), which means that usually the exchange of messages between Internet users is more dynamic, bolder and direct.
Interactivity in the world of online contacts is a true revolution in human relationships because you can fully enjoy the benefits of free and limitless contacts, while not investing much effort and quickly reaching its objectives.
Anonymity reduces the risks associated with the personal disclosure taking place in the cyberspace, reducing susceptibility to psychological injury.
“Triple A Engine” (Cooper, 1998, Cooper, Griffin-Shelley, 2002; Cooper et al, 2003).
Cooper has described this kind of attraction to the Internet by coining the term ‘Triple A engine “:
Accessibility (easy access)
Affordability (affordable access)
These three features of the Internet attract majority of people who are happy to use regularly electronic communication.
Other researchers often point out two further features of online communication such as:
Acceptability (wide acceptance of the Internet) (King, 1999),
Approximation (the possibility of trying to function in a variety of roles) (Ross & Kauth, 2002)
Especially the latter feature – the possibility of trying to experiment with different roles and contexts, without the risk of social consequences, attracts a lot of people wanting to try ‘living other lives. “