About Email Counselling

Online Counselling is ‘what it says on the tin’ – the process takes place via computers in ‘cyberspace’. So, instead of sitting in a counsellor’s office you sit at home in front of your computer and the counsellor sits in front of theirs – although you don’t both have to be at the computer at the same time. You write about what is disturbing you in an email and send it to the counsellor. He or she then reads it and posts a return within an agreed time. The number of times that you do this depends entirely upon you. You pay for each email exchange.

What are the advantages of email counselling?

There are several features of online counselling which you may consider to be advantageous over face-to-face:

  • You don’t have to book an appointment and then sit and wait until the agreed time
  • You don’t have to travel to see the counsellor
  • You can compose your email as and when it suits you
  • You may feel less embarrassed and find yourself able to disclose things which you have been unable to previously
  • You can write in the way which is most comfortable for you
  • You can use emoticons to indicate how you are feeling
  • Spelling and grammar are not important – it is what you say that is
  • Unlike when you speak to someone you can amend and edit what you wish to say before you send it
  • You can read the response that you receive over and over again
  • You can stop whenever you wish – although it would be a good idea to let the counsellor know your intention to do so in your last email.
  • You will have a record of each session which you will be able to reflect upon and see the progress that you have made
  • If you do not wish anyone else to know that you are working with a counsellor you do not have to tell anyone, unless you are under sixteen and then you may need the permission of an adult (see Agreement)

Online therapy has disadvantages too – here are a few:

  • Online therapists cannot respond to crisis situations
  • Online therapy is not appropriate for those with serious psychiatric illnesses
  • Online therapy is not appropriate for people with complicated or detailed issues
  • Without visual or auditory clues it is possible for misunderstandings to occur
  • Email exchanges preclude the kind of urgent attention which is possible in a face-to-face setting
  • Online therapy cannot offer the structure, which some clients may prefer, of attending sessions at the same time each week
  • Online therapy is reliant upon technology which may fail