A recent example of how difficult it can be for professionals to seek help was in April 2016, a young accountant plunged to his death from a London skyscraper after his online gambling addiction spiralled out of control.
Joshua Jones was only 23 and working with PwC but also led a double life and was addicted to online gambling. He committed suicide after his gambling habit and associated debts rose uncontrollably, an inquest into his death was told. What this sad story indicates is there are people in the professions with problems and some do not feel able to be able or comfortable to seeking support.
We understand the pressures that professionals have of billing, clients, peer group, family and financial commitments which can make it difficult to take time out to seek help. Therefore, it is vital such professionals impacted by addiction or other issues seek qualified help as soon as possible otherwise the issues will conflate and the potential downside will be greater.
We also understand the increased shame that can exist for professionals as there is a general community expectation of lawyers, accountants and professionals to be stable, together people with their psychological house in order. For these professionals, it can be more difficult to admit to both themselves and others they have a problem.
There have been studies which have concluded that online counselling when delivered using SKYPE and combined with cognitive behaviour therapy or acceptance and commitment therapy can be effective for a number of clinical issues.
A significant advantage of counselling online is accessibility – support is available for those in remote areas and those who may have difficulty attending a clinic of offices. Online counselling has also been shown to be effective for teenagers and young adults who are open to new technology and thus may be open to seeking support through this method.
Online therapy is also very convenient, the issues around scheduling and setting appointment is largely removed. Online counselling may be appropriate for some clients where there may be a stigma around seeking support such as may be the case with certain cultural issues. And the degree of anonymity afforded through online counselling can prompt clients to communicate more freely and openly than they may have through face-to-face counselling.
There are some disadvantages. The main one being the loss of face-to-face contact where the counsellor can see the client’s body language and other non-verbal signs which assist the counsellor in learning what is happening for the client at the moment. Developing rapport between counsellor and client is important to helping the client, and in some cases it can be more difficult to establish that rapport through online counselling. However, our experience is rapport and trust can be developed through SKYPE counselling leading to a very therapeutic client/therapist relationship.
Matthew Reynolds has a gradute diploma is Counselling and a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He was a qualified accountant before embarking on a more satisfying career of counselling.