Since the emergence of technology-assisted media such as the computer, Internet and telephone, there has been a considerable shift in the way psychologists provide services to their clients. The terms commonly used are telepsychology or telehealth, however other terms are used such as e-health, e-counselling, online counselling, web-counselling, telephone counselling or helplines. All these terms reflect the nature of remote psychological services.
In recent times there has been an enormous growth in the call centre industry and, as a result, services provided by Psychologists, Psychiatrists and Social Workers are now offered in this environment. The evolving nature of technology means that these services are becoming more flexible and accessible: technology facilitates the client’s ability to choose when and how services are used.
TISCA, the Telephone Information Support and Counselling Association www.helplines.org.au has estimated that this type of service will increase by approximately 20 to 30 per cent per year.
In Australia, approximately 500 telephone and Internet based ‘services’ offer a combination of information, support and counselling. Furthermore, they provide the public with a very effective method of accessing services and are playing a major role in the provision of health and community welfare across this vast country.