A qualitative study of online counselor experiences and online counseling session dynamics
Sibel Akmehmet Sekerler, University of Rochester, United States
University of Rochester . Awarded
Online counseling has been an emerging and much debated phenomenon. The number of web sites is constantly growing; yet compared to this growth there is still scarce qualitative research on communication dynamics of online counseling. This study aims to demystify the online counseling experience of the counselors and the online counseling process. Three chat and three email counseling examples conducted by six pioneers of online counseling are demonstrated for this purpose. The methodology is informed by phenomenology and symbolic interactionism and employs a constant-comparative design. Interviews were conducted with the six online counselors. Actual transcripts of 34 emails and 18 chat sessions were analyzed. The results provide in-depth understanding of online counselors' practices. Four major themes emerge to be important in describing the online counseling experience of the counselors: finance, convenience, trust, and assessment. Participants view online counseling as an expansion of their face-to-face counseling practices. Findings also suggest that online counseling should not be described as a one-dimensional modality. Email and chat counseling are identified as having considerable differences. Online counseling skills observed in the sessions can be categorized as transferred, modified, and newly devised skills. This study suggests that the boundaries of the counseling profession are both challenged and expanded by the emergence of computer-mediated counseling.
Akmehmet Sekerler, S. A qualitative study of online counselor experiences and online counseling session dynamics. Ph.D. thesis, University of Rochester.
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