Online tutoring is not new. Other terms for online counseling are etherapy, online therapy, cybertherapy and internet counseling. Almost 10 years have passed since I first offered online counseling. Professionals worried that online counselors were trying to replace traditional face-to-face psychotherapy. Now many psychotherapists offer online counseling or at least use technology to improve relationships with existing clients.
Wouldn’t it be great to get advice without the hassle of planning or commuting? Many people find that online counseling is easier, more convenient and cost effective. The idea of logging in at home or almost anywhere with the convenience of wireless internet and a laptop is quite appealing.
So how is online counseling conducted? Email, chat and webcam are the most common delivery methods. Some therapists offer counseling in virtual worlds such as Second Life. But most of the time, online counseling is text-based, meaning the usual hear-and-sight cues aren’t available. Some describe email therapy as exchanging letters. Chat therapy is a conversational style and is more easily compared to the process of traditional psychotherapy. With advancements in technology, webcams provide more resolute images than a few years ago. Webcams reintroduce the audio and visual components into the process. Each of these delivery methods can be used individually or in combination with each other.
If you’re interested in online counseling, make sure you choose a therapist who understands the importance of confidentiality and offers an alternative to traditional chat and email. Ideally, your communications should be secure and encrypted, and there are several free encryption options available that are very easy to use. Many therapists who practice online have additional training that ideally indicates a certain skill level. Therapists who have completed additional training will usually indicate the training on their website. Therapists can choose to become certified as a Distance Credentialed Counselor (DCC). This designation suggests a basic level of expertise and the certification is offered by the Center for Credentialing Education and the National Board of Certified Counselors. In addition, you must be able to verify a therapist’s other credentials. In any case, expect your therapist to be able to practice independently. In the United States, this is usually indicated by a state license.
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Organizations that support online counseling professionalism include the International Society of Mental Health Online (ISMHO) ismho.org and the American Distance Counseling Association (ADCA) (
Is online tutoring right for you?