With the exception of writing letters or sending information via “snail mail”, we all generally communicate over long distances by means of technology. When counseling services are provided this way, they can be called “distance counseling”.
Distance counseling is not new. Even Sigmund Freud sent therapeutic letters to his patients. However, with the improvement in communication technology and its utilization, distance counseling is on the rise. Several different forms of electronic communication are used for distance counseling, such as video, phone, and secure messaging. There are benefits and drawbacks to any medium of communication and clients and clinicians respond differently to them. Some clients and clinicians prefer to sit in the same room as each other while in session and some do not. It is important to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all, and what is currently a fit for a client may change depending on life circumstances. Although most people have a great deal of experience communicating via different electronic media, there are important clinical skills, laws, and ethical standards related to providing distance counseling. Clinicians should evaluate which media of electronic communication are a fit for themselves and their clients, and evaluate their need for training in distance counseling.