Updated: Jul 29
To continue with our blog series about online counselling advantages, we will extend today on to another important topic: anonymity.
We might feel comfortable talking to friends and family about our current situation.
We don’t need to be anonymous to do so. They know us better than anyone else!
But sometimes we get to the point where they might not be the best people to talk in-depth to about the issues we are going through.
Maybe because we don’t want to worry them, or simply because, let’s face it, we all have problems we deal with on a daily basis.
There’s also the other aspect of not being able to get a neutral response to what we are telling our friends, by no fault of their own.
After all, they’re not our therapist!
This is why seeking the support of a counsellor will help you process your current situation in a way that is limited when talking to a friend.
By all means, use your support system to vent and get help. This is one of the first questions we ask clients when starting therapy.
A good support system in place will help you through the tougher times – and will be there to enjoy the happier ones too!
Now, let’s go back to the anonymity issue…
You might be lucky to feel comfortable in sharing your issues openly, and talking about how you deal with them, with people you know; but you may be like so many others who simply are not as comfortable.
This might be remedied to a greater or lesser extent by seeking one of the many forms of online therapy.
Text-based therapy would provide the most anonymity and might be ideal for some of us, but others might still prefer to see someone that lives miles away from us and speak to them via video link.
It’s all about what works best for you!
Choosing to seek therapy online might reduce the chances of you feeling socially stigmatised if you wanted to keep the fact that you’re attending therapy between you and your therapist, and maybe a handful of trusted friends or family.
Unfortunately, the social stigma attached to therapy is still alive and well.
Bumping into a friend at the therapist’s waiting room and feeling like you might have to explain why you are there might be an inconvenience and make both of you feel awkward (or it might just be absolutely fine! – there are more and more people accepting the fact that attending therapy is good for us, for many reasons!)
This inconvenience can be solved with online counselling.
You will save your energy for self-care and focusing on the process of therapy you’ve started, saving yourself the potentiality of having to explain why you are going to a counsellor’s office.
Once the social stigma attached to it vanishes, it will eventually reduce the hesitation to seek assistance.
Through online counselling, you can keep your privacy protected and engage easier with your therapist from home, even in the comfort of your pyjamas.
If we look at the different age brackets of people that are seeking therapy, younger clients may prefer the online version as most of them are very familiar with IT and may embrace the efficiency and convenience of using their devices to look after their mental wellbeing.
Whereas older clients may prefer to opt for face-to-face therapy, as they might not be too literate with computers (although many do surprise us as they are very tech-savvy!).
There are alternatives to online therapy that would also work well for someone that’s not very tech-savvy.
For example, a phone call might be great to retain a degree of anonymity but still access good therapy, with similar benefits to online counselling.
Something to take into account with online therapy, and something that happens more in this type of therapy, is the dis-inhibition effect.
Face-to-face social interaction may get in the way of the client fully opening up in a counselling session.
Some factors that can interfere with the client’s involvement in the therapy process might be paying attention to the therapist’s, and their own, body language; they might also get distracted by room furniture and other aspects of the face-to-face set-up.
Some clients do get inhibited by these things.
Think about autistic clients, for example, where feeling like there is too much sensory stimulation, which might distract them or not allow them to focus on dealing with their emotions, as they might feel overwhelmed by everything else going on around them.
Choosing online therapy can, therefore, allow the person to focus more on the therapy than the surrounding interference.
It will also allow them to talk about sensitive issues quicker and with more detail than they would in a different setting.
Both online and face-to-face therapy are equally effective, but the real question is this: where will you be able to work through your issues best?
As we are talking about anonymity, the online option seems to keep any interfering factors in check, allowing you to focus on the things that you need to work through.
Finally, we hope that you have gathered from what we’ve said in this post, that online therapy allows for greater openness for some clients.
The absence of face to face contact can also prompt clients to communicate more openly without concerns for a bias of race, gender, age, size or physical appearance.
This may lead to an increased level of honesty with themselves, and therefore greater and quicker self-disclosure.
This might not be the case for everyone, and we do advise that if you’re more comfortable with face-to-face counselling, then please do follow what’s best for you.