Use Online Counseling to
Reduce Stress Naturally

Online counseling can be the perfect solution when we are really stressed. Sometimes the self help tips and techniques of this website are not enough to deal with our anger, fear and other stress related problems. Self help stress relief techniques do have limits. Internet therapy provides another way to access deep levels of health and healing.

Sometimes It's Smart to Seek Counseling

There are limits to what self help can do. When we get really stressed we feel we are locked in a box with no way out. It shows up in our lives and seriously affects us in multiple ways:

  • Emotionally: Stress certainly affects our emotions. We may feel angry, frightened, depressed or many other negative emotions.
  • Mentally: Stress and its associated negative emotions affect our studies at school or how clearly we think at work.
  • Behaviorally: Stress impacts our behavior with friends, family and the people we care most about. Stress affects our performance at work. We can have problems with our co-workers, and not get our tasks done well, on time, or at all.
  • Physically: It’s well known that stress also strains our physical health. It contributes to ulcers, eating binges, heart attacks and many other physical problems.
  • Spiritually: When we are overloaded with problems we can’t handle, sometimes we lose our spiritual faith.

When it is necessary or appropriate to seek professional help for stressful problems and challenges we suggest online counseling. It's a convenient, cost effective way to get help.

Part of Self Help is Knowing When to Get Help

By seeking professional counseling we open up to new understandings, behaviors and solutions. Counseling professionals are trained to help us move from our isolated box of stressful issues. Many people find great relief from this process.

Counseling has been a natural traditional part of human interactions for centuries. People have sought counseling help through the clergy, respected elders, mentors, family members, and even neighbors over the back yard fence.

In Person Counseling Services Are
Unsuitable for Some People

Traditional face to face in person counseling has some limitations. It used to be that professional counseling required you to

  • find a recommended counselor in or near your home town, (but sometimes there wasn't one)
  • make an appointment
  • physically travel, (which is difficult for some folks... especially the disabled)
  • and see the therapist in their office.

Once you found someone, getting help involved scheduling, traveling, and was often quite costly.

Sometimes due to the stigma that some people attach to seeking professional help it was important but difficult to keep the counseling relationship confidential. Other people might see you entering or leaving the counselors office, or even sitting in the waiting room. People do gossip. These were just some of the deterrents that discouraged people from seeking a professional counselor who could help them.

So for people who are very busy, live in remote areas, have limited income, are handicapped or in public positions, in person counseling may not be practical.

Fortunately, today the world has changed – at least in some respects.

Online Counseling Benefits are Easier to Access

Today it is easy to get professional counseling or therapy online. Here are some advantages of internet counseling.

  • There is no time or expense for travel.
  • With some proper precautions the relationship can be completely private.
  • Consultations with your online counselor can be done in the convenience of your home or office.
  • Costs of internet counseling are often significantly less than the traditional face to face therapy option.
  • With online counseling we have a broader selection of therapists to choose from. With the internet, distance does not matter. Geography does not limit us anymore.

For example, someone may feel strongly that they need a therapist who shares their cultural background in order to really be understood. But there may not be such a person in their home town.

By seeking an online therapist they may more easily find the perfect person to work with in another city with greater privacy, and less expense.

For these reasons and others, the field of online therapy has grown rapidly in the last 10 years. The result is that many more people are able to access and benefit from a professional counselor's services to help them with their problems and find new ways of living.

Online Counseling - Several Types Are Being Used

Chat rooms and forums are areas of websites that allow participants to type messages to each other on particular topics of mutual interest. It is an informal and often free way to break out of one's isolation and exchange ideas and helpful support. Some organizations even set up free online counseling chat rooms for people to meet and help each other.

Instant Messaging (technically “synchronous chat”) allows individuals to have real time conversations with a trained professional therapist via keyboard and computer.

Some online therapists use emails (technically “asynchronous chat”) to have a more extended "conversation" with you. It is more spread out in time. Emailing gives both you and the counselor more time to carefully consider what you are writing. People report that putting their thoughts into an email to an online counselor can be profoundly beneficial. It gives them new insights they didn’t have before.

Some people feel safer with instant messaging and emails because their faces are not seen. Their privacy feels more protected. They may use "pen names" online to protect their anonymity. They find it easier to open up more quickly and share what is really bothering them.

Other people prefer video chat as well as online phone conversations for their internet therapy.

Phone conversations have been used as supplemental therapy very successfully for many years by some counselors. For example, if the client was ill or for some reason could not travel, the client and therapist would simply talk by phone. It worked.

Today video conferencing is available. This means that if both the client and the therapist have the necessary equipment they can use a video conference service such as Skype to actually see and converse with each other over the internet. Many people already have the required web cam and microphone built into their lap top. This allows the richness of seeing the other person's face and body expressions, talking in real time and yet does not require any travel.

How to Choose an Online Counselor

If you choose to investigate the healing potential of online therapy it is wise to follow some precautions:

  • Make sure your counselor is trained and licensed. Have they participated in an online counseling graduate program? Just as not everything that appears in print is true, not everything we read on the internet is true. And some people may pretend to be trained professional counselors but are really not qualified. Choose a counselor who makes it easy for you to check their credentials.
  • Make sure your counselor has the proper technological tools to maintain your privacy. Some of these tools include encrypted email service, secure online payment methods, and secure computer record storage systems.
  • Make sure your counselor has the professional experience to help with your issues and challenges.
  • And of course make sure your counselor or therapist is a compassionate and caring person. It should be someone you respect and feel good about.

You can investigate websites of clinics that provide the services of several trained internet counselors.

Or you can search for solo practitioners who have the experience and training relevant to your particular concerns.

There are therapists online who specialize in certain areas or approaches to life such as

  • Online Christian counseling,
  • Online family counseling,
  • Online relationship counseling,
  • Online depression counseling,
  • Online job counseling,
  • Online school counseling,
  • Online mental health counseling, and
  • Online financial counseling, just to name a few.

Is Internet Therapy Suitable for Everyone?

It is not always appropriate.

  • If someone is afraid, unwilling or unable to communicate using the tools of the internet then this is not a good option for them.
  • Some people will simply feel more comfortable working with counselor in person.
  • There are some issues like suicidal tendencies, where it is important to be seen in person by a professional as soon as possible.
  • Also, it is sometimes best to work in person with a psychiatrist who can prescribe medications to help us function better.

But more and more people are discovering that significant and meaningful communications and healing interactions can and do take place over the internet every day.

Use Online Counseling When Required as an Extraordinary Tool to Enhance Life

In the same way that the invention of the airplane did not replace the usefulness of walking, and the invention of the TV did not replace the usefulness of the radio, the new developments of online counseling do not replace traditional in person therapy or the self help techniques described in this website.

Online counseling simply opens up more options for more people to find solutions to their problems and live more fulfilling lives.

Additional Resources:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/if-you-are-in-crisis-and-need-immediate-help.shtml advises you on what to do if you or someone you know is in crisis.

http://www.metanoia.org/ offers more information and guidance on how to benefit from online therapy and what to do if in crisis.

For more information on finding a suitable counselor, you might find this report helpful. http://www.counselingpros.com/Consumer_Guide.pdf

Return to Gentle Stress Relief home page for an overview of many types of natural stress relief.

Sources:
Derrig-Palumbo, Kathleene and Zeine, Foojan. 2005. Online Therapy, A Therapist's Guide to Expanding Your Practice. New York: W.W. Norton & Company

Stofle, Gary S. 2001.Choosing an Online Therapist. Harrisburg, PA: White Hat Communications