You need spiritual help. Your issue is beyond what your pastor can deal with. Do you need to jump drive (or maybe fly) somewhere or would be comfortable dealing with someone via a computer screen? I want to help you sort through answers to questions you may have so you can determine what’s best for you.
I believe three separate questions need to be answered:
- Do you live in a remote area, or in a region where nearby pastoral counseling help is not readily available?
- Are you a face-to-face, press-the-flesh person who needs physical contact so you will feel comfortable sharing your deepest secrets?
- Do you feel comfortable dealing with 21st-century computer technology?
Let’s address the third question, technology-related, first because it’s the easiest one.
Computer and telecommunications capabilities have exploded in recent years. Steve Jobs revolutionized the industry, and even he didn’t fully grasp the future for smartphones. He said in 2005, “The problem with a phone is that we’re not very good going through orifices to get to the end-users.”
Videoconferencing has become commonplace, and casual consumers use Skype, Facetime, and other apps to connect with loved ones all over the world.
At Above & Beyond, we began meeting online with clients in 2012 and used Skype as the vehicle. Skype requires an account and some expertise to use successfully.
We migrated to GoToMeeting because it did not require registration, we could get our clients set up on it quickly and walk them through technical problems that might present. We like this application still and employ it to this day; our clients find it easy to use, and our counselors are very comfortable with its administration features. It provides a secure, reliable, and high-quality connection to clients all over the world who have access, minimally, to a smartphone and high-speed internet connection.
If you live in a remote area or Spirit-filled, full gospel Christian counselors are in short supply, then online sessions may be your only viable option. I added the qualifiers in the preceding sentence we contend that deliverance ministry and spiritual warfare tactics comprise a vital part of a Counselor’s arsenal. If you live in a larger urban area, but can’t find that help in person, online sessions may well be your best option.
I had a client from Alabama who completed the intake form and wanted to schedule a week when he could come to Tampa for help. I explained that we could do some of the sessions over the internet but he was adamant that he needed to meet in person. He was experiencing significant emotional pain and knew that, for him, he needed to be in the physical presence of a counselor to help him gain victory.
Our three Florida offices reside in the Tampa Bay area, home to more than 3 million people. We have many in-office clients, but some residents enjoy the convenience of our online services and choose that option. I would like to share our client experience.
Who Chooses Office Visits?
- Able/willing to come to one of our FL offices.
- Not confident of their technical skills
- Concerned about the privacy and security of internet communications.
- Social in nature. They prefer real interaction over sterile connectivity via a computer/smartphone.
- Carrying a heavy burden that they need to unload on someone. The client often harbors untold secrets that need to be shared in person not through a computer screen.
- Looking for empathy and compassion for their situation, as much as practical biblical help.
Who Chooses Online Sessions?
- Have no other viable option due to distance or time constraints that prevent in-office sessions.
- Comfortable with technology or have a spouse, child, grandchild, or friend who can get them set up.
- Because these can be fitted in a tighter time window, they can be done while the client is at home or on a lunch break. They also do not require a provision for travel time.
- Counseling simultaneously with two or more individuals in different locations can be easily handled.
- Believe they require advice/biblical counsel more than a shoulder to unload on.
- All else being equal, they end to be more of the loner temperament. Connecting via a computer screen is more impersonal and less threatening.
If you need competent Christian pastoral counseling, I urge you to seek it out. If you can find it locally, fantastic! If not, do some online research. Some centers and ministries can help people via the internet. Prayerfully seek the Lord to show you the best match. The technology works; are you willing to give it a chance?