Email counseling is another of the online options available for folks seeking to access counseling services.
Email counseling would consist of an exchange of emails between client and counselor.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about email counseling;
"E-mail counseling is method of providing advice and guidance on a one-to-one basis from a professional counselor, psychologist or mental health practitioner to an individual privately via electronic mail instead of the traditional format of face-to-face consultation. The types of problems addressed cover the full range of the human experience, in relationship to self and others. In many cases e-mail counseling is supported by self-help behavior modification exercises.
In the traditional method of counseling, an individual would seek the assistance of a psychologist in person at the office of the therapist. While this method of counseling is still in practice, the advent of the Internet has provided counseling psychologists and other mental health care professionals the means to offer their services online to individuals who may not be able or prefer not to participate in the traditional method of therapy."
Email counseling can be as detailed and time consuming as either of the participants care to make it.
If I were offering this service, I would be very clear about the length of messages that were acceptable, and how much time I would spend crafting a response, and how soon I would reply.
I would certainly explain what assessments and situations are applicable.
Email counseling is not appropriate for emergency situations, so an e-mail counselor should probably determine that a participant knows how to reach their local emergency services if need be.
Email counseling does allow for folks who prefer to write rather than talk, or the hearing impaired, for example, to participate in services, and it can be quicker than getting in to see a busy practioner, with less intake effort time and expense.
Email counseling allows the participation of those far away from the counselor. I can access any expert anywhere in the world who offers expertise that I would like to explore.
Email counseling is probably going to be more economical than face to face, but it is usually not covered by insurance so it will be an out of pocket expense for participants.
Both participants have a record of the conversation to refer back to, so nothing is forgotten from the conversation.
I have seen many flame wars start over a misconstrued e-mail message though, so the lack of nonverbal messages may necessitate frequent clarifications by both parties, which would not be a time problem for face to face sessions.
If I were seeking email counseling, I would definitely ask questions about record keeping and encryption. Email counseling can be fast and reliable, but is dependent on technology functioning. Heaven forbid Al Gore should take down the internet right in the middle of your e-mail sessions. I say that facetiously, but computers do break down, power goes down, e-mails are inadvertantly sent to the wrong folks, ect.
That being said, just the crafting of my question to the counselor can be very helpful for me as a consumer of mental health services.
Journaling, which e-mail therapy parallels, is a tool that folks have used for self-exploration for a long time.
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