If you have landed on this page, it's most likely that you are looking for some help with a personal or lifestyle issue. You are also probably interested in finding out if you can get the help you want without having to travel to a consulting room which, depending where you live, could be a major obstacle for you. It is also of course the case that in the online world in which we now live, we are used to being able to do many more things from the comfort of our home or office. Can counselling or coaching be done at a distance?
The simple answer is of course "yes" and there is a growing number of individuals and organisations now offering such online and telephone services. Early research findings also suggest that, despite the lack of the visual and non-verbal cues that can be helpful in face-to-face communication, online and telephone counselling and coaching can be just as effective as traditional consulting room sessions. Ultimately, the key variable in both face-to-face and telephone or online sessions is the ability of the counsellor/coach you are working with to create an optimal working alliance with you. If you have decided that an online/telephone approach is the most appealing/feasible option for you then how are you going to choose which person or organisation to work with?
Whether you are working with a counsellor or coach face-to-face or via telephone or online, some fundamental questions you might want to have answers to would be the same:
Is this person suitably qualified? (Membership of a relevant professional association is usually a good indicator as the person would have had to present evidence of their training and competence in order to become a member)
Does this person have a level of experience I would feel comfortable with?
Will this person be a good "fit" for me (e.g. does the way in which they present themselves on their website and when I talk to them have the right "feel" for me)?
Assuming you feel comfortable with the answers to those basic questions, it could still be the case that you are still quite unsure about the whole idea of getting this sort of help, perhaps because it's not something you have done before or because you have had a previous not-so-great experience or maybe you're a little sceptical about the usefulness any kind of counselling or coaching. If that's the case, then do try to email or speak with the person and ask questions before you make the investment of your time and effort as it is important that you feel comfortable and confident with the choice you are making.
Belinda is an experienced Counsellor registered with the Australian Counselling Association. She has been running a successful practice in Williamstown, Victoria, Australia since 2002 which includes working with interstate and international clients remotely both online and via telephone. For more information about Belinda please visit her practice website at http://www.belindahulstrom.com