Online Counseling

Online Counseling

Derek Richards (University of Dublin, Ireland) and Noemi Viganò (Alliance Counseling: Professional Psychological and Counseling Services, Ireland)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0315-8.ch059
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Abstract

Online counseling is defined as the delivery of therapeutic interventions in cyberspace where communication between a trained professional counselor and client(s) is facilitated using computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies. Research considers aspects of delivering therapeutic interventions online, including process and outcome research, the therapeutic relationship online, the potential benefits and challenges in working online, client suitability for online counseling, therapists’ and clients’ attitudes and experiences of online counseling, professional training for working online with clients, and its very nature and definition as a therapeutic intervention. Understanding the psychology of online behavior as it applies to online counseling includes the effects of apparent anonymity and distance, disinhibition, identity and impression management, writing and emotional expression, presence, and ethical behavior in cyberspace.
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Introduction

The field of cyberpsychology involves the study of human experiences (cognitive, emotional, and behavioral) that are related to or impacted by developing technologies, in other words, the psychological study of human-technology interaction. Subject areas, for example, include identity online, online addiction, and online relationships. Online counseling, also referred to as e-therapy or cybertherapy, is another area of study. Online counseling is the delivery of therapeutic interventions in cyberspace where the communication between a trained professional counselor and client(s) is facilitated using computer-mediated communication (CMC) technologies.

The phenomenon of online counseling has a brief history but, aided by technological developments, has grown exponentially in recent years. Research considers aspects of delivering therapeutic interventions online. These include, but are not limited to, the potential effectiveness of online counseling, establishing a therapeutic relationship in cyberspace, potential benefits and challenges, client suitability for online counseling, therapists’ and clients’ attitudes and experiences of online counseling, professional training for working online with clients, and its very nature and definition as a therapeutic intervention. Research has also been exploring newly observed phenomena that form part of understanding the psychology of online behavior as it applies to online counseling. Areas of interest include the effects of apparent anonymity and distance, disinhibition, identity and impression management, writing and emotional expression, presence, and ethical behavior in cyberspace.

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