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AN EXAMINATION OF THE SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES IN MENTAL HEALTH STATUS, WORKING ALLIANCE, AND SOCIAL PRESENCE BETWEEN FACE-TO-FACE AND ONLINE COUNSELING

ABSTRACT

This study examined the similarities and differences between online and face-to-face counseling with regard to general mental health, working alliance, and social presence. The research questions focused on possible differences between current online and face-to-face counseling clients, the demographics of current users, and possible relationships between the measures of social presence, working alliance, and mental health. Participants included 50 current counseling clients (37 face-to-face, 13 online) who were recruited through online means. Chi square tests, t-tests for independent means, and Pearson correlations were used to analyze the data. Results indicated a significant difference between the face-to-face and online counseling groups indicating that online users perceived a significantly stronger working alliance on the total measure as well as the Goal subscale. Other results indicated no significant differences between the groups on general mental health or social presence. A significant positive correlation was found between the working alliance measure and the social presence scale within the face-to-face counseling group as well as within the total sample. These results support the contention that a strong working alliance can be developed through online counseling and that the counseling field should continue to develop understanding of online counseling.

COURTNEY M. HOLMES

SCHOOL PSYCHOLOGY AND         COUNSELOR EDUCATION

THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY