Intimacy and Relational Communication in Online Counselling

Intimacy and Relational Communication in Online Counselling

Bayode I. Popoola (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria), Olusegun F. Adebowale (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria), Akinjide Gabriel Akintomide (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria) and Onijuni Olufemi Olatomide (Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-204-4.ch005
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Abstract

Intimacy is very crucial to the success of any therapeutic relationship. In a counselling relationship, disclosure has been found to be a cornerstone for the relationship to be effective and for self-disclosure to be achieved. In counselling there should be trust, intimacy, and effective relational communication. Intimate relationships can only occur where there is trust, effective communication, and assurance of confidentiality. Lack of intimacy in a counselling relationship has been found to contribute to both physiological and psychological problems of a client. It is, therefore, important for any counsellor who is aspiring to make a remarkable impact in the practice of counselling to make the establishment of intimacy and relational communication a priority. Online counselling by its nature requires much more effort to establish intimacy and relational communication with the client than face-to-face counselling. This chapter posits that, apart from acquiring the necessary skills needed in becoming a professional counsellor, an online counsellor needs to acquire some level of proficiency in communication technologies, especially in the areas of handling computers and effective use of the Internet. Also, such a counsellor should be well equipped with the principles of effective communication. He/She should be familiar with some of the Internet languages often referred to as ‘net lingo’ and some emotional icons often referred to as ‘emoticons’ in order for him/her to establish and promote intimacy and relational communication in an online counselling relationship.
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Intimacy

The word “intimacy” is popularly used to describe the familiar and very close affective connection with another as a result of entering into a deep or close relationship through knowledge and experience of the other. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1971) defines intimacy as being commonly used to mean 'belonging to or characterizing one's deepest nature.’ It generally refers to the feeling of being in a close personal association and belonging together. Intimacy in the words of Albo (2010) is the closeness of a personal or private nature shared between two people that are friends. It is also used as a euphemism for an illicit sexual encounter.

The word was actually derived from the Latin word “intimus,” meaning inner or inmost (Hu, Wood, Smith, & Westbrook, 2004). Cassidy (2001) quoting Reiss and Patrick (1996) pointed out that the word originated from the Latin words “intimus” which means 'innermost' and “intimare” meaning 'to make the innermost known.’ Cassidy concluded that the discussion of intimacy addresses one's deepest nature, one's innermost self, the core of one's being, and the truth about whom one really is.

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