What Is Online Counseling, and Is There a Place for It in the Therapeutic Milieu?

What is Online Therapy?

Online therapy, through videoconferencing with Skpe and other encrypted digital software makes it possible to access a mental health professional remotely and to have a session over video. This type of online counseling is also known colloquially as “Web Therapy”.

The Benefits

First, let’s cover the benefits. Some individuals use videoconferencing out of necessity-they live in rural areas or in geographic locals that have a shortage of mental health clinicians. These clients now have access to therapy where before consistent therapeutic treatment would not have been possible. Also, bad weather, illness and business trips no longer have to interfere with treatment. In addition, if the client or the patient moves, the therapeutic relationship can be maintained. This is especially crucial since the therapeutic relationship is so much of what heals psychological distress.

An argument can also be made that certain conditions might be well-suited to online treatment, such as agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and severe depression since the symptoms of these conditions sometimes makes it very difficult for these patients to leave the house.

The Concerns

Others disagree. Some therapists report that there is “something lost” when the person is not in the clinical space of the office. Some therapists believe that videotherapy creates emotional distance, and thus therapeutic rapport is more difficult to establish. Patients find it difficult to let down their guard and take emotional risks. Some of these difficulties are simply the result of the limitations of the technology. Online counseling disrupts a basic foundation of the therapeutic connection: eye contact. Patients and therapist typically look at each other’s face on the computer screen, but since the camera is usually perched on top the computer, their gazes are off-kilter. Sessions are also often cut off due to internet disconnections and sometimes the sound moves slower than the video, degrading the therapeutic experience.

My Thoughts

There is a place for Online Therapy. If an individual lives in a remote location, has a travelling job or a debilitating condition that makes it impossible to leave the house, then online therapy is appropriate. I am most comfortable using this modality with current clients that I already have a rapport with who have perhaps moved out of the area, or cannot attend frequent sessions due to travelling. I am not opposed to Online Therapy with a new patient, but I would need to have a telephone assessment first with the potential client to see if it would be appropriate for that individual.

Finding an Online Therapist

If you are interested in online therapy and do not already have a relationship with your therapist, it is important to find someone who is licensed in your state and has experience with teletherapy since there is an art to it, and you want someone who knows how to avoid the therapeutic pitfalls.

If you are struggling to cope with depression, interested in therapy or counseling in Newport Beach, Irvine or Orange County, or want to find out if you are a candidate for online therapy, please contact Jennifer De Francisco at (949) 251-8797.

If not now, when?

You don’t have to go through this alone. Seriously. Let’s get started.

Recent Posts

Featured Testimonials

Chris B.5.0
Read More
Kids are always hard and as a parent it's not always easy to see objectively what is really going on. Jennifer helped me talk through challenges/issues with my oldest son that were running through my head. In the end she provided me a solid perspective to build on and because of that I have been able to manage the situation much better. Easy conversation and very helpful.
Ravenna S.5.0
Read More
Jennifer is such a wonderful and genuine therapist. She is extremely kind and understanding. She comprehends couple and mental health problems precisely. I would definitely recommend her to anyone that is seeking help.
Read More
Jennifer is such a wonderful and genuine therapist. She is extremely kind and understanding. She comprehends couple and mental health problems precisely. I would definitely recommend her to anyone that is seeking help.
Timothy 5.0
Read More
I have been seeing Jennifer De Francisco for about a year, and she has helped me so much with the unhappiness I thought would never go away. Jennifer’s compassion and empathy made me feel safe enough to open up and talk about the uncomfortable feelings I didn’t even know were causing my sadness. With Jennifer’s help, I am now aware of my negative thoughts. Instead of avoiding them, I can work through them. She has helped change my life.
Read More
It was tough when we first started with Jennifer , but through difficult conversations and understanding some of the causes of how closed off we were to each other, we worked through it and are in a good place. The idea that we could break up is the furthest thing from my mind now, and going in to work on our relationship was the best thing to do. One of the things that really helped was that I felt Jennifer really cared that our relationship worked and that we improved things between us. I think that is rare, and always helped me not give up hope.
George S.5.0
Read More
I know people hate to hear this, but relationships take work, especially with kids and stress. I would suggest relationship counseling for any married couple, even if it were just monthly or when things get tough. We continue to see Jennifer after our initial problem because it keeps us on track. Best of luck to all couples looking for help- Jennifer is a wonderful resource.