Marriage and Family Therapy
What is distance counseling*?
Distance counseling is a counseling approach that takes the best practices of traditional counseling as well as some of its own unique advantages and adapts them for delivery to clients via electronic means in order to maximize the use of technology-assisted counseling techniques. The technology-assisted methods may include telecounseling (telephone), secure e-mail communication, chat, videoconferencing or stand-alone software programs.
How is distance counseling different than face-to-face counseling?
There are many differences between distance and traditional counseling. Distance counseling may be more convenient for clients. While telecounseling takes place in real time and does depend on "making an appointment,” traveling and related formalities do not present obstacles. Asynchronous (relay of information with a time lag) counseling communications via secure e-mail adds even greater flexibility. On the other hand, telecounseling and various forms of synchronous (live) chat techniques demand special counseling and communication skills from the counselor, and in certain ways, from the client as well. In its own way, distance counseling may also present its own special advantages beyond the replication of best practices from face-to-face counseling. For example, some clients prefer the anonymity of a distance counseling relationship and are more free to open up and self-disclose than they would be in a traditional counseling setting. We are also finding that the power of the written word in distance counseling provides a profound impact on both the counselor and the client.
The Board Certified-TeleMental Health Provider (BC-TMH) credential identifies those professional counselors who are uniquely trained in best practices for delivering traditional counseling through technological means. BC-TMHs have met nationally established distance counseling criteria and adhere to the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC) Code of Ethics and Policy Regarding the Provision of Distance Professional Services. I am a Board Certified-TeleMental Health Provider (BC-TMH).
The Center for Credentialing & Education (CCE)
*Current California law requires that all TeleMental Health participants must be within the state of California (unless the provider is licensed to practice in other states).