Adults and children alike seek psychological counseling by mental health professionals to deal with various emotional, mental and distressing difficulties. If in the past psychological treatment was based on the classic dynamic treatment only, today there are various treatment methods and approaches, in order to adapt to every person who faces difficulty the exact approach that can ensure the success of the treatment.

Sometimes there are also cases where we do not know how to choose the right treatment for us and for the difficulty we face. Sometimes we also only need one focused counseling session to get multiple coping tools. Precisely for the purpose of these cases, it is possible and worthwhile to seek online psychological counseling. So that we can get help with a particular difficulty or guidance. A remote psychological counseling session, with a professional, who will guide us and help us move forward, change and cope.

The effectiveness of online counseling sessions
Many studies show that as the years go by, as patients “open up” to the method and caregivers become more skilled at the treatment method – so it becomes more and more effective.

A 2009 study published in the journal Clyn Psychol examined the professional literature from 2003 and found that online counseling sessions offer sessions at a more affordable price for every pocket, and that patients are open to trying the therapeutic intervention. It was further stated that as the years go by, eventually clinical results similar to face-to-face meetings at the clinic will be presented.

Another study conducted in 2012 by a team of researchers from the University of California and the U.S. Department of Welfare was published in the journal Psychological Services. The researchers, who also engaged in online psychological treatment and counseling, found that people with mental health issues can deal with difficult barriers through online appointments. In addition, a study conducted between the years 2000-2012 and published in a medical journal published in Canada, found that CBT treatment online was sometimes more effective than frontal therapy.

Who is it for?
Online psychological counseling provides people with a quick, professional and immediate response that was not possible until many years ago. The counseling, during which you can get mental and emotional support online from experts – has been found to be effective in many cases, such as:

  • In people who need guidance with point difficulty.
  • When a person needs a one-time consultation and getting a recommendation from a psychologist.
  • If a person is undecided between treatment methods and approaches and does not know how to choose the right path for him.
  • When a person is looking for mental or psychological treatment for another person (a child or another relative) and does not know what might be right for him.
  • In people who suffer from mental problems that prevent them from leaving home.
  • In cases where the focus of the difficulty that the person is facing is at home.
  • In situations where the patient is afraid of being seen by psychologists and feels more comfortable in his home.
  • In people who due to physiological problems can not leave the house (due to illness, disability and more).
  • In cases of people who do not live near the psychologist they want to be treated by (for example, a person who lives abroad and wants to be treated by an Israeli psychologist).

The conditions necessary to ensure the success of an online counseling session
In order to have an online psychological counseling session, the patient needs to have an active webcam on their phone, tablet or computer, a proper microphone – and of course an Internet connection.

It is very important that the meeting with the psychologist takes place through a video call, face to face. It is also possible to have the meeting by phone or by e-mail, but these methods are less common and less effective.

In order for the session to be as effective as possible, like a regular clinic appointment, the psychologist must see the patient, talk to him, hear his voice, see his body movements and be as impressed as possible by his mental and physical condition.

How is an initial online counseling session with a psychologist conducted?
During the counseling session, the patient will talk to the psychologist about the main difficulties he is facing and describe to him the dilemmas he needs support for, for example:

  • Explain to him the reason for seeking counseling.
  • Describe to him the difficulty of himself or of the family member in need of help.
  • Will outline to him the lifestyle of the person facing the difficulty.
  • Tell him if there are other background problems, such as health, mental or physical problems.
  • Once the psychologist has received and heard the description of the case, he will make an initial diagnosis of the case. He will then recommend treatments that can match the difficulties presented to him. If necessary, he will refer the patient to another specialist if he himself is unable to assist. The psychologist must explain the various methods and treatment approaches appropriate to the specific difficulty presented, and provide first-hand tools for dealing with the difficulty while answering professional questions.
    Ethics in online psychological counseling

Any psychologist who provides online counseling must also be a qualified and licensed therapist to engage in treatment in the country where he or she works. In addition, he must have experience in online therapy and have knowledge of navigating an online therapy process (so that he can monitor the process, online communication and glitches that may arise during therapy).

Gary s. Stopel, secretary of the International Network for Mental Health Online, which has been hosting online meetings since 1996, stated in an article published that the identity of the patient and caregiver should be verified when treating online, using names, addresses, IDs and more.

The Code of Professional Ethics for Psychologists in the State of Israel also contains a special chapter devoted entirely to online psychological intervention. In this chapter you can find organized information about privacy security measures in online counseling, how to discontinue treatment, remote intervention in minors and more.

Sources

  • Psychological intervention by remote means, the code of professional ethics of psychologists in Israel, the Israel Psychological Association.
  • Experts – Online psychological counseling, psychological treatments and parental guidance, at https://www.experts-il.com.
  • Gary s. Stoppel, the International Association for Online Mental Health, at https://www.stofle.com.
  • Current Directions in Videoconferencing Tele-Mental Health Research, Clin Psychol (New York). 2009 Sep 1; 16(3): 323–338.
  • Videoconferencing Psychotherapy: A Systematic Review, Psychological Services 9(2):111-31.

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