How Technology Has Made Counseling More Accessible

At the back of your mind, some deep, dark secrets come crawling out every now and then to haunt you, but you are powerless to bring them to light. You won’t tell friends and family about them and they gnaw at your consciousness as you work, as you play, and maybe as you sleep. Perhaps it’s time to see a counselor.

What is Counseling, Exactly?

Counseling has been the long-time practice of helping people make much-needed improvements in their behavior, their thoughts, and their feelings. The mediator, the counselor, facilitates this through special methods of collaboration and support between one or multiple parties at once. Said parties will have to set attainable goals and, with the assistance of the counselor, have to devise plans in order to accomplish these goals. Their expertise merely depends on their professional and educational experience, but what does this mean for you, the client?

You might be having issues with alcohol and drug addiction or abuse. You’d get out of bed and easily get your fix. When things don’t go your way, you’d be at it again. When you’re down in the dumps, you’ve got your non-human friends to turn to. Now you can’t sleep, what do you do? You take that last hit and the cycle repeats. How about unresolved issues and tension with your significant other? You could be thinking about them being unfaithful, or how they’d be threatening to leave you, or worse. What about issues with your family? You might have not been getting along with your parents or siblings, or they might have not been taking strides to make peace with you. Or what about the eating disorders you have? What about a post-traumatic experience you went through? Are you even paying attention to what anyone tells you? There are many other reasons why counseling is important and why you should at least give it a try.

Old-World Counseling

In a traditional setting, this would involve you having to look through the internet (or yellow pages if you fancy that), find a suitable counselor, drive out or commute to their workplace and show up. You’d be there in no time. But let’s say that you have no means to do this and that you are insecure. The counseling office is miles from your house and you’d hate to commute because you’d fear that people could read you like an open book. Their eyes, judging you as though you carry with you a mortal sin carved onto your back. Or you simply tend to forget things due to your busy lifestyle. You answer phone calls, check your emails, take care of your children, unwind through your hobbies, and the moment you lay your head down to sleep, you see that you’ve, maybe accidentally, turned down an alarm that tried to tell you to visit your counselor.

Little did you know that the world would change forever in late 2019 when people began talking of facemasks and social distancing. A sickness plagued your city and you still haven’t gotten any of your problems solved. Because of anxiety and COVID-19, counseling offices take the risk of having you in them especially since you (or anyone inside the counseling office) might be a carrier of the dreaded virus. Such visits could potentially endanger you or the employees within. This is why in this age of incredible technological advancement, there are many ways you could find affordable counseling without risking your life or the lives of the ones trying to save you from yourself.

What is Counseling

Counseling Today

The infamous virus had brought upon a new age for various social platforms online. With major cities and towns getting quarantined nationwide and with COVID-19 cases rising at an exponential rate, people have opted to stay at home for their safety. But while you might be safe where you stay, you may find yourself alone with your demons and with each day that passes, they grow bigger and more terrifying. Video calling services saw this as a boon to renew and regain their userbase as people like you sought to connect with friends and relatives even through video conversations online. Long-gone is the age of the telephone, now we usher in ways you can stave off your personal demons by meeting with counselors via Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, or FaceTime. If you don’t know how else this could make your counseling experience better, read on and we should be able to convince you why.

1. You are Made More Confident

Let’s revisit a point made in the introduction. Going to a counselor makes you feel like you’re in middle school again. You and the new kid can’t seem to connect or befriend each other and the moment you step into the guidance counselor’s office (or heavens forbid, the principal’s office), the other kids in the hall start tearing you down with their eyes. Psychologically, many of us have insecurities that we feel whenever we are in plain view of any person. Some of us would think that people will judge based on what we say or how we carry ourselves. In the previous paragraph, we talked about showing up physically and as much as we’d hate to admit it, this is always the hardest part. Perhaps you’d chicken out, or you might be ashamed to share your plight with the counselor, or you simply, again, didn’t bring yourself there due to forgetfulness. Maybe it’s even a logistics issue like, say, you don’t have a car or you now fear commuting because of the virus.

Using the technology we have now, we can use our keyboards, our monitors, or our phones under the guise of anonymity. The counselor could be miles away in another city, and they don’t have to know about your personal life (unless you share it, of course). This is quite similar to speaking to a friend via video call, except in this case, you’re paying your friend to help you fix your problems. As technology improves everyday, there will always be ways to make counseling an easier task than it was before.

2. It Allows for More Flexible Schedules

In the first point, you are made aware of the many ways you could miss out on a counseling session. Maybe you’re one of the few people out there still working physically, or you’re a frontline worker, or you’ve fallen victim to any of the examples we stated up there. These are some of the numerous and unpredictable hurdles that could delay you from having your problems vanquished.

Through an online setting, scheduling appointments could make for flexible and adjustable opportunities. There are several apps out in the market you could use to give you reminders for your appointments and with social media, you might even be able to exchange contact information with your chosen counselor. If the latter was the case, the counselor’s secretary could become the bridge on which you may reach your friend outside of your circle of friends. The sooner these appointments are booked, the better you can rid yourself of any of your personal, mental, social, or familial issues.

3. Many People, Like You, Use Social Media

At your fingertips lies knowledge and power in its purest form. If you haven’t realized what we’re talking about yet, we’re talking about your keyboard or your phone. The boom of social media allowed many of us to voice out what we think and hear what others have to say. There isn’t a person out there (maybe except for indigenous regions) that hasn’t heard of social media. According to a statistical report called “Social Media Usage in the U.S. in 2019” from the Pew Research Center, 73% of adults in the U.S. use YouTube, 69% use Facebook, 37% use Instagram, 28% use Pinterest, 27% use LinkedIn, 24% use Snapchat, 22% use Twitter, 20% use WhatsApp, and 11% use Reddit.

This means, majority of adults in the U.S. use their phones and/or computers to keep in touch with one another. When the COVID-19 pandemic shook the world, the rise of video calling services like Zoom have come to light and any social media surfer was made more aware of its presence. This greatly opens the options for you to be able to speak to counselors. If video chatting still makes you uncomfortable and you would like to preserve your anonymity, there is the option of using Second Life, a virtual world where you may be able to incorporate role-play or the re-enactment of any traumatic event that you had. Browsing social media has become a past-time that proliferated throughout the nation in the span of a decade and thus, this plays a vital role in the counseling business.

4. It’s Even Easier to Find Online Counselors

Search engines are your weapons to wield when you need to cut through obscurity. With the correct keywords, you should be able to find a counselor that suits you. Do know that different counselors specialize in different things; one counselor might be able to do group sessions, while another might prefer one-on-one talks. One might be more familiar with substance abuse, and another might be familiar with relationship problems. If you’re lucky, there are those that are all-around counselors who could help you with almost every problem you have under the sun. Reaching these people could be through a simple email, a Tweet, a direct message, or a comment. By starting a conversation with them on social media, it may help ease you into a counseling program and you wouldn’t even realize it. Remember, the key here is to talk to them. Who knows? Maybe you’ll end up telling your friends about them, and they’ll tell their friends, too.

5. Counselors May Be Able to Provide Better Resources

Last but not the least, online counselors might be able to provide you with better material for your session. Such resources may be backed with scientific research, inspirational or instructional videos, or documentaries you should be able to watch. When uncertainty arises between you and your counselor, you could always hit them up with a question that they’d be glad to answer, especially if they are familiar with the material they shared with you.

Technology Marches On

Technology is always evolving. It’s a mass of knowledge and gadgets that haven’t solidified or settled in its purest form yet, as mankind constantly shapes it with ideas and innovation. As it improves, the counseling business won’t be going away soon. There will always be people out there who will be willing to listen to your problems be it personal, familial, mental, or social. By draping ourselves in the shadows of anonymity or basking in the light of familiarity, we could safely approach counselors wherever, whenever. People are mysterious and unsolvable puzzles; sometimes they just need the right piece to feel complete.