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The Internet is evolving daily, both with respect to technology and its impact on various disciplines.  For many years, the psychological disciplines have developed and refined face-to-face counseling methods that have been proven effective in research.  The emergence of Technology-Assisted Distance Counseling brings us exciting possibilities for new ways of support - some of which are so cutting-edge that they are still being explored for effectiveness in research studies.

These opportunities could not have come at a better time. As I share in other articles on this site, the assimilation of the mental healthcare industry into corporate culture and managed care has made it increasingly difficult for us to get the help we need. According to the 1999 Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, while at least one in five Americans has a diagnosable psychological problem, nearly two-thirds of those in need never seek treatment. In contrast, nearly 100 million people searched the Web for mental health information last year. The emergence of what is interchangeably called e-therapy, web-counseling, online counseling and cybercounseling extends opportunities that offer to bridge those left behind with the help they need.

With this in mind, we are ready to begin consideration of the positives and negatives of what Web-based counseling and psychotherapy methods can offer you at the present day.       

The positives of Seeking Web-Based Counseling

The positives of seeking Web-based counseling support include the privacy and convenience that can come about through this approach. Those who are shy, or too embarrassed to face even a counselor with personal questions, or those who live in remote areas with no locally available counselors  can now benefit by receiving Technology-Assisted Distance Counseling. Overall, for persons who are somewhat shy or apprehensive about seeking face-to-face counseling help, this medium can be a useful way to "test the waters" preliminary to establishing a complete counseling relationship. Further, minor conflicts may be resolved and questions answered with the privacy and convenience of a person remaining in their own setting. Effective use of time (not needing to drive back and forth), saving gas, and maximization of privacy may make this approach particularly inviting to many people. Finally, for those who live in high-cost-of-living areas, web-based support may be more affordable by getting help from a professional in a low-cost-of-living area.

I believe that Technology-Assisted Distance Counseling support is more effective, to the degree that communication is less-restrictive between those involved.  Traditional Face-to-face counseling is most effective, being the least restrictive level of communication.  It occurs in real-time, with seeing and hearing interaction. Next, would be telephone-based, or tele-counseling - which occurs in real time, with hearing, but no seeing communication.  Instant messaging ranks next in predictable effectiveness, because while it blocks seeing and hearing communication, it occurs in connected real-time sequences.  Finally, email counseling, or email-therapy, is completely text-based, outside real time, and thus more advice-oriented - as opposed to a true interactive counseling process. 

This brings me to my perspective on the role of intuitive communication in Technology-Assisted Distance Counseling. After a lifetime of personal and professional study and experience, I work from the research-supported framework that consciousness is non-local; both in terms of time and place.  To the extent that the counselor (and client as well) has developed intuitive faculties (consciousness-sensitivity), all forms of tele-counseling and cyber-counseling will be enhanced.  Indeed, in the same way one sees more in a muted commercial,  aspects of intuitive communication through sensory-restrictive media may actually be enhanced.

As you consider which type of webcounseling approach is best for you, or yours, let me encourage you to at least aim for the least-restrictive level of communication for which you feel ready.  For example, your present comfort and security needs may attract you to beginning your interaction with e-mail counseling.  You might begin here, with the goal of moving to tele-counseling - and maybe eventually face-to-face counseling.

We are on the cutting-edge of many technological advances that will greatly improve the potential of this medium as a resource for provision of psychotherapeutic services. We are emerging into an era where technology allows us to see and hear each other as we talk in front of our computer monitors. As a result, some of the concerns expressed above will at least be partially resolved by our advancing technology. Further, this medium will allow a blending and expansion of services that do not presently exist.  Ultimately, if we approach this field with due care for ourselves and for each other, the World Wide Web will offer us helping opportunities that we have yet to discover in our dreams.

National Board for Certified Counselors WebEthics Link


In the event of emergency, dial 911 -   or - Contact a mental health facility or private mental health professional in your local community - or -  contact immediate support through this HOTLINE LIST.

"The trust issue becomes thornier when you take anonymity into account. We know that online anonymity has a disinhibiting effect, and that can be a positive benefit in e-therapy. The more anonymity you allow, the more people will talk freely. If they are allowed to be anonymous, some people will discuss sensitive issues online that they would never talk about in a face to face setting." - Martha Ainsworth

My Virtual Web Office

How transitions-counseling.com Offers Web-Based Counseling Support

I have discontinued my weboffice at PersonalSolutions in order to develop better locally-based online and telecounseling options. This process is under construction.  Please call or email with your interests in Web-based counseling support.





 CALL ME AT 704-276-1164


For inquiry about services through non-secure email (no fee) contact:

Use the above contact methods to inquire about or schedule sessions in one of my local offices.

If you have immediate need to contact me, call me at the number above. If I don't answer, leave a message on the secure voicemail.


The above number is the one to call for telecounseling after you schedule the session by email or inquiry call.


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The Negatives of Seeking Web-Based Counseling

While a growing number of professionals in the psychotherapy disciplines are offering some type of service online, it can be a challenge to determine that who you contact is who they claim to be.   This means you must establish that the person offering their services is truly professionally qualified. This can be done by verifying credentials through certifying bodies and licensing bodies, performing a web search, or connecting through a professional services web site that verifies the counselor's credentials for you.

Once you establish that your prospective helper is for real, you must consider that the credentials of any helping professional were gained through training in face-to-face  counseling and psychotherapy, based on research establishing those methods as effective under face-to-face circumstances. This means their technology-assisted work with you will offer exciting, cutting edge opportunities that have limited support through research, so far.  (In techno-geek parlance, this means we therapy-folks are beta-testing a powerful new system of service delivery that still has some bugs to be worked out!)

It is important to understand the limitations and the advantages of web-based, or  Technology-Assisted Distance Counseling as traditional, proven methods are being adapted to be used through cyberspace and on the phone line.

There are variations from state-to-state with regard to provision of psychotherapy services. As a result, a person in Illinois receiving cyberspace-based counseling from somebody in Montana is not protected by the licensure laws of Illinois. This may not be important to you if you know the person is at least credentialed and/or National Board Certified in their discipline.

The counselor and client involved in  Technology-Assisted Distance Counseling cannot see each other in phone counseling and cannot hear or see each other in email and instant messaging.  This limits your therapist's ability to make an accurate determination about the seriousness of your circumstances and the extent of help you may need. On the other hand, you may be more comfortable initiating the counseling process by enjoying the privacy of being unseen.

Some circumstances demand more intensive intervention than e-therapy can offer. In general, if you are currently involved in a crisis situation involving sexual abuse, a violent relationship, or if you have a psychiatric disorder that involves distortions of reality, you should not consider online counseling methods as a resource for seeking help.

Finally, confidentiality and security are always major considerations in behavioral health-care and they certainly apply in the cyberspace setting. There is ample evidence of the potential hazards of unsecured communication on the Internet. If you seek cyberspace-based assistance, you should seek reassurance from your caregiver that your communications will remain confidential and secure; both in terms of clinical data and financial data.




Portal                   to Virtual Web Office
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Other Resources for Information on Web-Based Counseling

Martha Ainsworth is recognized as the only independent "consumer watchdog" of e-therapy - discussing both the risks and benefits.  Links to her site and her excellent articles are below. (Save this site in "Favorites" or "Bookmark" for quick return.)

The ABC's of Internet Therapy by Martha Ainsworth

How to Choose a Competent Counselor     by Martha Ainsworth

Is Cybercounseling Appropriate For You? 

"No matter how frightening may be the prospect of finally confronting a painful conflict, the pain of facing and working through the problem will always be less than the pain of continuing to live with the conflict."     -Granville Angell

"One of the dynamics driving the growth of e-therapy is the issue of stigma. Despite increased awareness, many people are still deeply embarrassed to talk to a counselor or therapist. The Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health tells us that two-thirds of all people who need mental health care don't get it. Fear of stigma is one of the main reasons." - Martha Ainsworth

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To call TRANSITIONS/SoulMentors: Dial (704) 735-1554                                                        Copyright 1997, 1999, 2003, 2004 by Granville Angell, EdS, LPC, NCC  All Rights Reserved.