Online Counseling

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Technology in Counseling
Argosy University/Atlanta

Technological advances have opened many doors for the counseling field. These innovative changes incorporate the way services and information are disseminated and retrieved by practitioners and client. This paper looks at the commonly uses of communication modalities ethical issues, code of ethics, advantages, and disadvantages with online counseling. This paper also looks at the California Telemedicine Development Act of 1996.

Technology in Counseling
Technology has become an intricate part of our daily lives. Computers and cell phones are tools utilized by many in homes, the workplace and have become valuable in the field of counseling. In today’s society counselors are working in multiple locations, and experiencing extensive travel time to client locations. With the expanding growth and convenience of the Internet, many are wondering if online counseling will replace traditional face-to-face encounters (Wilczenski & Coomey, 2006). Technological advances have opened many doors for the counseling field, many mental health practitioners rely on computers and the Internet for some aspects of their work including e-mail, chat rooms and video conference These innovative changes incorporate the way services and information are disseminated and retrieved by practitioners and client. Today an individual can receive therapy-related services via the Internet, these services are known by a variety of names, including e-therapy, e-counseling, cyber- counseling, web counseling, and online counseling (Wilczenski & Coomey, 2006). Online counseling is described as the process of interacting with a practitioner via the internet using an electronic means of communication. E-mail, chat room, telephone, and video conference all play a major role in providing reliable services to clients; these modalities offer an alternative communication between practitioner and client. E-mail is the simplest method of communication and does not require an appointment when used during online counseling. The client sends an email with a specific question and the practitioner answers at his or her convenience (Sussman, 2004). Chat room provides an outlet for practitioners to work with client using real-time communication. Chat room delivers immediate feedback between client and practitioner with no delay between response times (Sussman, 2004). The cell phone has become accepted as an effective communication tool, it is convenience for consultation, crisis intervention, and assessment. Although body language is absent during the conversation, the communication is much more intense and to the point (Sussman, 2004).

Mental health practitioners must be skilled and flexible to respond to the growing demand. Clients are reaching out for help via the Internet employing e-mail, chat rooms, and video conferences. Oravec (2000) describes an occasion in which the Internet was utilized for therapy by an individual suffering from depression from the unexpected news that her husband was diagnosed with cancer. As the husband condition deteriorated the wife found herself searching the Internet for support in dealing with her husband’s illness. The Internet proved to be a valuable tool during the crisis. Online counseling provided an outlet to manage her depression and offered support with her husband illness. Although online counseling possesses some benefits, several limitations can hinder individuals who choose to use these services.

Sussman (2004) believes there are many advantages to online counseling and any ethical issues can be resolved. Online counseling provides access to individuals in isolated and under-served areas, those that are physically disable or ill, and individuals who are unwilling to seek face-to-face services. Individuals taking care of a sick relative or child would not have to make arrangements to travel to an office; services will be readily available from the...
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