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Skype Counselling – How Can You Know If It’s Right For You?

Seen advertisements for online therapy and wondered if it could work for you? Read on to find out the pros and cons of Skype therapy.

What exactly is Skype Counselling?

Online therapy is the exact same process as in-person counselling or psychotherapy. You make a commitment to work with the same therapist, often at the same time each week. It’s just that instead of talking in the same room, you talk over your computers screens.

Counselling over the internet isn’t new, and has even been heavily researched as to it’s efficacy (read our other piece in this series, “How Effective is Online Therapy?” to learn more). Originally done via emails and online programs, then chat software, video conferencing was the logical next step.

In fact some think that with time, Skype counselling will be more popular than in-person therapy, as it’s more a fit for our modern lifestyles. There is even a new name being batted about, “Skypotherapy”.

Skype Counselling vs In-Person Therapy

There are some obvious differences with Skype therapy, such as –

  • you don’t have to travel to see your therapist
  • you can do this sort of therapy from anywhere
  • access is easy even if you suffer a disability or injury at present.

But one benefit some people don’t realise is cost.

Why Skype Therapy Can Be More Cost Effective

Skype therapy often costs the same as regular therapy – BUT it can still save you money, and here’s why.

  • it takes less time out of your day as you are not travelling to and fro
  • you also save the time of ‘getting ready’
  • if you are a caregiver of an elderly parent, sick relative, or of children old enough to play by themselves quietly during the session, you can save on care costs.

But Does it Work?

Studies show that Skype counselling works as well as seeing someone in person, and in the case of some disorders it can even work better than traditional, in-person therapy.

When Skype Counselling Can Be a BETTER Fit Than Going to See a Counsellor

The important difference for some people is that with online counselling you don’t have to sit in a room with someone.

This physical distance of online therapy can be very helpful for those who are shy, find the thought of therapy too ‘exposing’, suffer social anxiety, or find they clam up in new situations.

Online therapy can even be a way to gain the confidence to eventually attend in-person therapy.

And in the case of something like severe depression or anxiety, where the very act of getting dressed and getting out of the house can seem an insurmountable feat, online counselling can feel far more feasible.

When online counselling might NOT be a fit

Nothing is right for everyone, and that includes online therapy.

If you are very oversensitive and over-analytical, it’s possible to find the first few online sessions rather ‘cold’ compared to an in- person session. Things like a therapist briefly looking away, which you might not notice in person, can seem ‘bigger’ over a screen. Keep in mind your therapist might just be taking notes off-screen.

Online counselling can also feel difficult if you suffer from paranoia around personal privacy. The truth is that Skype is very safe, a secure way of communicating that uses Advanced Encryption Standard (AES), which means it’s hard for anyone to ‘hack’ your call. But if this sort of thing gives you anxiety, in- person therapy might see you more able to relax.

Online therapy for fear of intimacy?

Fear of intimacy is a growing problem in our modern society (read our comprehensive Guide to Intimacy and Relating Issues if this is you).

If your major issue that you want to approach with therapy is relating to others, Skype therapy might not be the most appropriate long-term. The therapist/client relationship is a big part of therapy for relationship issues as it gives you the chance to finally try to fully trust someone, and this is often more effective in-person.

At the same time, if you find intimate relating so overwhelming it’s put you off trying therapy, then Skype therapy, with it’s built in sense of distance, might be the perfect place to at least start seeking support.

And if you are travelling so much that online therapy is the only option, Skype therapy is again at least a good starting point.

Not sure? Try a “Blended Approach”

The truth is that it really isn’t a question of ‘either or’. Most people who use Skype therapy use it in conjunction with in-person therapy. For example, international business sorts will use Skype when they are travelling, but will come see their therapist in-person when they are in town.

The Most Important Thing to Keep in Mind?

The most important thing here is not to let deciding between Skype or in-person therapy be a way to sabotage seeking support.

Remember, some therapy is better than no therapy at all, and trying a session with a therapist is not a jail sentence!

If you find either the therapist or the mode of therapy is not for you, you can simply try something or someone else next. What matters is taking those crucial steps forward to finding the right counselling or psychotherapy for you.

Want to share your experience of Skype counselling? Or have a question we haven’t answered? Use the comment box bellow, we love hearing from you.

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    Dr. Sheri Jacobson


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