Many people believe online counseling or distance counseling is something recently started in the mental health field. The truth of the matter is that distance counseling has been around for some time. At first you may think, “Wait a minute, the internet hasn’t been around that long!”.
Your’re right, but distance counseling is not only online counseling. Long before the internet, therapists were consulting with clients over the phone and corresponding through good old ‘snail mail’. Now with the advent if the internet, online chat and video sessions, in addition to email exchanges, augment already existing services.
To put things in perspective, the first officially documented distance counseling took place in October 1972. During this session, a psychology student at Stanford in UCLA simulated a therapy session – these were the humble beginnings of online counseling!
In reality, however, mental health clinicians and therapists had already begun to take the lead in the distance counseling area of mental health by engaging in telephone sessions with clients as needed.
Consultations, mental health assessments, and full-on counseling services were available to clients that would not normally have access to psychotherapy in distance methods.
From this point forward, counseling psychology, or mental health counseling, would begin to take new roads for reaching clients – cue the virtual office! Of the most recent additions to the study of online counseling or distance counseling is the notion of avatar therapy, which takes place in virtual worlds.
As a growing field, online and distance counseling methods truly offer clients a myriad of options in terms of accessing mental health treatment services. Clients can actively participation in their mental health care, choosing which method of treatment works best for them.
- Interview Concerning the Ethics of Internet Counseling
- The Future Of Innovation: The Use of Avatars in Psychotherapy
What are your thoughts on the future of online counseling or distance therapy?