Technology in Counseling: Strategies & Distance Counseling

Instructor: Quentin Shires

Quentin has taught psychology and other social science classes at the university level and is considered a doctoral colleague at Capella University.

In this lesson, learn how technology plays a role in the counseling process, as well as strategies used in distance counseling. Identify the different forms of distance counseling and how they can be beneficial to clients.

What Is Counseling?

Need help adjusting to difficult life situations, problems, emotions, and feelings? Counseling may be just the thing. Counseling is a process that occurs between a professional counselor and a client, where the counselor uses different strategies to help increase empowerment and meet a variety of mental health, wellness, education, and career goals.

From a traditional perspective, counseling occurs in person so that the therapist and client can create a therapeutic relationship; however, since the emergence of growing technology, the counseling field is adapting to help provide individuals easier access to this important service.

Distance counseling veers away from traditional in-person counseling.

Distance Counseling

Image being a single mother of two children and not having access to consistent childcare; distance counseling would be beneficial to you! Veering away from the more traditional in-person perspective, distance counseling professionals use different technological methods in order to provide services to their clients. Let's look at some different types.

  • Telephone counseling.

This form of distance counseling is completed over the telephone at a mutually agreeable time between the counselor and the client. The benefits of this form is that it is convenient for the client, as they won't have to travel to receive clinical help.

Some of the drawbacks include difficulty reading the body language of the client, which in traditional in-person counseling can assist in determining the client's true emotions. Although telephone counseling can be used on a long term basis, it is typically used through a crisis hotline, where individuals can seek help during immediate crisis.

  • Video conferencing.

This form of counseling is becoming more popular as technology improves. Video conferencing allows the counselor to meet with their clients on a face-to-face basis. This can be more effective than telephone counseling, as the clinician has the luxury of talking to their clients as if they were in the same room, albeit through an electronic means. Some therapists use public video chat services, while others use software programs that are used specifically for video conferencing.

  • Secure emails.

Emailing can be another form of distance counseling; however, it must be used with caution. Since the therapist cannot hear or see their client, they only have the ability to go by the words that are being typed.

Although this can be a beneficial form of distance counseling, therapists should be trained in being able to read between the lines in what their client is typing, as well as the different cues that come up in the different emails. A benefit of this form of counseling is privacy, and also it allows the client to work at their own pace when responding to different emails from the therapist.

  • Private chat sites.

Remember when you used to go into different chat sites and talk about subjects with other people that have similar interests? Therapy is heading that way too! Private chat sites allow clients to log onto a private and secure electronic platform that will allow them to chat by messaging their therapist.

This can be seen as a much faster version of emailing! Occurring in real time, private chat sites allow the client and therapist to talk through emotions and feelings, as well as plan goals for upcoming sessions. Beware! In order to get your money's worth, make sure that both you and your therapist are fast at typing!

New Technologies and Counseling Strategies

There are important strategies for counselors to follow as well as clients to look for when thinking about participating in distance counseling. Following these practices will ensure that the therapy will remain confidential and keep the focus on the patient.

Comprehensive assessment tools. Since therapists don't actually see their client in-person, it is important for them to ensure that they are using comprehensive assessment tools to help them with the distance counseling process.

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