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Agoraphobia Treatment | The Pros and Cons of Online Counseling

Agoraphobia Treatment | The Pros and Cons of Online Counseling
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Agoraphobia treatment is an interesting concept with a simple paradox. How does a person paralyzed by the thought of leaving home seek treatment for agoraphobia? Traditional counseling is without a doubt a successful treatment method for people with agoraphobia. But how do you help someone without sitting down, talking and learning the source of their fears and frustrations? Agoraphobia treatment that incorporates the best of both worlds – cognitive behavioral therapy from the comfort of home – might be the most effective and efficient option. Online counseling could very well be the future of agoraphobia treatment.

The Benefits of Online Counseling

Many people with agoraphobia prefer online counseling as an alternative to more traditional treatment methods – and understandably so. The concept of agoraphobia treatment from the comfort of home helps patients relax and more effectively open up about their symptoms. Online counseling is not only convenient but also allows for the anonymity many agoraphobia patients prefer. The benefits of online counseling for agoraphobia treatment are inescapably clear, but potential drawbacks do exist. There are definitely reasons for people to consider more traditional agoraphobia treatment options.

The Potential Drawbacks

Building strong patient/counselor rapport is among the fundamental elements of agoraphobia treatment. The obvious drawback of online counseling for agoraphobia treatment is the challenge patients and counselors face in building such rapport.

Comfortable and open patient/counselor relationships open the doors to successful treatment. Online counseling tends to negatively impact this invaluable, effective and often necessary relationship.

Technical difficulties are another drawback of online counseling as one bad Internet connection is all it takes to keep patients from receiving agoraphobia treatment. Finally, insurance may not cover the costs of online counseling for agoraphobia treatment.

In the end, the patient must decide which agoraphobia treatment method to pursue. A quick look at the additional pros and cons of online counseling will help you make the right decision.

Pro: Convenience

Traditional counseling rarely affords patients the opportunity to receive immediate help. Crisis situations – which are incredibly common in people struggling with agoraphobia – often drive patients to seek help right away. Patients looking for immediate help through traditional counseling must first make an appointment and then meet with a therapist at a later date and time. In the face of an agoraphobia-related crisis situation, even a one or two day wait can feel like a lifetime. Online counselling offers patients the convenience to log on to the Internet and instantly connect with a counselor.

The convenience of online counseling for agoraphobia treatment extends far beyond the concept of immediate help. Agoraphobia patients who are housebound due to debilitating mental or physical conditions often exhibit severe avoidance behavior including the inability to drive. In many cases, agoraphobics find it near impossible to drive to meet a counselor. Essentially, online counseling closes the gap between people in search of agoraphobia treatment and those who are unable to physically or mentally visit a counselor.

Con: Technical Difficulties

The convenience of online counseling for agoraphobia treatment goes out the window when seemingly inevitable technical problems arise. From computer applications and hardware to Internet connections and more, many variables can negatively impact the convenience of online counseling.

Computer crashes and other technical problems often require a long time to repair. Patients can not only miss their current online appointment but also be unable to make a new appointment. Delays in the treatment process can lead to added frustration and discouragement, which can only compound the problems many patient with agoraphobia are already dealing with.

There are ways to minimize the potential risk of technical difficulties. For example, patients and counselors can exchange phone numbers to hold a phone session in the event that a computer fails to function. Still, it is important for agoraphobics looking for online counseling to consider and even anticipate the instance of technical issues.

Pro: Anonymity

Social stigmas leave many individuals with agoraphobia with the intense fear that someone will see them at counseling and find out about their mental health problem.  Agoraphobics also tend to struggle with the concept of face-to-face interaction and find traditional counseling nothing short of intimidating.

Online counseling provides patients with the important benefit or anonymity otherwise unavailable through traditional counseling. Online counseling can help patients feel more relaxed and open up more quickly about their core personal issues. Anonymity could very well be the one thing patients with agoraphobia need to receive the best possible treatment.

Con: Confidentiality and Identity

Perhaps the most obvious drawback of online counseling is that anyone can pretend to be somebody else on the Internet. A teenage patient can pretend to be an adult while an unlicensed counselor can pretend to be a licensed one. One solution to this problem is to hold at least one face-to-face meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Online counseling for agoraphobia treatment is also a problem for individuals looking for confidentiality. Today, the inability to maintain client confidentiality is one of the most debated concerns with online counseling. A stolen computer or password is all it takes for patients to lose complete patient confidentiality.

Family members and friends can also stumble upon years of personal and documented online counseling. Since confidentiality is often the major concern among individuals with agoraphobia, online counseling for agoraphobia treatment might be more risky than we imagine. One way to avoid this problem is to password protect a computer or delete any documents related to counseling.

Let us know, are there any pros and cons of online counseling for agoraphobia treatment we missed? Would you consider online counseling as an alternative to traditional treatment for agoraphobia? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Written by Anthony D'Aconti

Anthony D'Aconti is the Founder of Breathe Into the Bag, an anxiety magazine created to help people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), OCD, PTSD, panic disorder, phobias, acute stress disorder, agoraphobia and social anxiety disorder. You can also find Anthony D'Aconti on Google+, Facebook, and Twitter

  • Mikel Levis

    Hi Anthony. It is such a good article that reveals many facts about online counseling. As per my thinking, despite there are few cons of online counseling, but still it is good option of meditation. Gradually more and more people are engaging with this method of counseling.

    • Anthony D’Aconti

      I agree. Online counseling is becoming more popular, especially for people with agoraphobia. It has definitely proved effective for a large number of people.

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