Online Counseling: A Narrative and Critical Review of the Literature

Authors


Please address correspondence to: Derek Richards, University of Dublin, Trinity College. Dublin. E-mail: derek.richards@tcd.ie

Abstract

Objective

This article aimed to critically review the literature on online counseling.

Method

Database and hand-searches were made using search terms and eligibility criteria, yielding a total of 123 studies.

Results

The review begins with what characterizes online counseling. Outcome and process research in online counseling is reviewed. Features and cyberbehaviors of online counseling such as anonymity and disinhibition, convenience, time-delay, the loss of social signaling, and writing behavior in cyberspace are discussed. Ethical behavior, professional training, client suitability, and clients’ and therapists’ attitudes and experiences of online counseling are reviewed.

Conclusion

A growing body of knowledge to date is positive in showing that online counseling can have a similar impact and is capable of replicating the facilitative conditions as face-to-face encounters. A need remains for stronger empirical evidence to establish efficacy and effectiveness and to understand better the unique mediating and facilitative variables.

Ancillary