The Internet is increasingly becoming our go-to place for finding solutions to our problems. It is free, quick and gives us a sense of comfort by helping us understand that there are others who find themselves in the same or a similar spot of bother.
Electronic counselling, especially, has taken off in the last few years. The anonymity that Internet provides has largely facilitated the growth. People feel comfortable sharing personal things if they feel their identity is not compromised. It also provides easy access to those who can’t afford it otherwise. E-counselling “offers easy access for people who refrain from using conventional psychological services due to difficulties in transportation, personal handicap, need for anonymity, shyness or the fear of face-to-face disclosure or interaction, sickness, having no free time for counselling during regular working hours, and living in a remote place,” as this study says.
But how do the counsellors who provide service feel about this trend?
A group of people at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia tried to answer that. Their paper, Perceptions towards online counselling among counsellors in Malaysia, was aimed at exploring the “perceptions of counsellors towards the needs of online or e-counselling.”
How counsellors see e-counselling
Twenty counselors were selected for the test and administered the Perceptions towards Online Counseling Questionnaire. They were asked the rate the 38 items on the five-point Likert Scale. Among the twenty, 90% of the respondents knew how e-counseling worked but only 30% had visited a website offering such a service.
And, here’s how they answered:
Majority did not agree that e-counselling had more advantages over traditional counselling. And, interestingly, nearly 55% of them ‘strongly agreed’ that online counsellors need to possess the traditional skill set of a traditional counsellor.
The study says, “despite the acceptance of online counselling in this study, results also showed that respondents agree that online counselling have some disadvantages.”
The findings of this study also suggest that both online and face-to-face counselling have advantages and disadvantages, respectively, and that counsellors should regard both medium as complementary to one another.
Limitations of the study
The context of the study was limited to Malaysia but holds valuable insights into how counsellors think about embracing technology.
The small nature of sample might not portray a realistic picture.
Zainah Ahmad Zamani, Rohany Nasir, Fatimah Yusooff; Perceptions towards online counselling among counselors in Malaysia; Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, Volume 5, 2010