Virtual Career Counseling – It’s Hot! Reduce your Carbon Footprint

Welcome to the 21rst century - Virtual Career Counseling is the "new normal!"

Yes, there are “bricks and mortar” Career Counseling centers. However, more and more clients are requesting virtual, counseling.  A phone line and a laptop are the tools which will get you started. All you need is an experienced guide, to help lead the way. Read on, to learn more about new developments in this Virtual field....

Counseling Psychology majors always talk and daydream about “opening up a Private Practice.” When I was in Graduate School, my classmates and I would spend hours discussing how to do this. We debated endlessly about the merits of various locations, how to afford an office administrator, and the best source of office supplies/furniture. Then there was also the big issue, of how to market a private practice. We never even considered whether we would have any credibility as “newly minted” counselors. Ah, the optimisim of youth! Conclusion, it was cost-prohibitive and basically impossible, for a freshly, minted counselor to set up their own private practice.

Now, fast forward to 2015...

I work as the Associate Director of MBA Career Services at the University of Georgia. This is the flagship University for the entire state of Georgia and due in part to UGA our beloved football mascot, we're known nationally too. I have 10+ years of business, career counseling and corporate recruitment experience. My speciality is working with business professionals in all 18 business concentrations. I typically have 400 Graduate MBA Business students on my caseload each semester.

My services need to be effective and efficient and also individualized. My students are about 10 years older than traditional college students and have 6-12+ years of work experience. I support students at 3 University campus' which are separated by 20, 50 and 70 miles. Though they are in far-flung locations, they all receive the same high degree, of personal, career management support. This is only possible through Virtual Counseling. Some of the virtual services our Career Center offers includes: webinars, online career testing, online career tools, pod-casts, online virtual interviews, social media and e-newsletters. This is cutting edge, but increasingly will be the norm.

Now, I have a Private Practice and a regular job. *(impossible in 1999). Virtual career counseling is what 90% of my Private Practice clients request. It is the wave of the future and has opened up a realm of possibilities


What’s the difference between Virtual Career Counseling and face to face counseling?

• Virtual career counseling works the same way as face to face counseling – EXCEPT you choose a meeting schedule that’s convenient for you. There is no “Bricks and Mortar” facility that you need to go to.

• There is never the awkwardness experienced, when you run into a friend, coworker or (*yikes) boss, as you are about to enter a Career Counseling Center! It is completely anonymous and confidential.

• You save on driving, commute time, parking, gasoline. Thereby, reducing your carbon footprint! You can even wear your pyjamas to a counseling session, no one can see you.

• You do not need to take time off of work, to meet during standard business hours. Virtual counselors offer evening session times. These are the preferred time slots, for working professionals.

How does Virtual Career counseling work?

• What do I need? I am not technologically savvy. If you have a phone and a computer, you are a candidate for Virtual Career Counseling. You do not need any more technological skill, than the ability to send and receive emails and to search on the Web. If you would like to see the counselor, during the session, you can use a Webcam. However, less than 5% of my clients request this. Most, really enjoy the privacy of Virtual counseling. If my clients need Career Assessments, I set this up for them online. No more unwieldy paper and pencil scoring... Good riddance, I say...

• You and your counselor meet by telephone for your initial session at the time arranged and work through the issues you identify as your priorities. You and your counselor agree on assignments and next steps for you to take before your next session.

• Sessions continue using virtual tools, technologies and methods. When your career counseling pre-paid sessions are concluded, you may choose to extend your relationship. For example, you may choose to return to your sessions after six months on the job for a “tune up” to review your new career goals. Also, clients often return, if they decide to change course in their careers or need to implement a new, job search.

• Typically, my counseling is short-term and solution-focused. Clients receive practical, assignments meant to enhance their career goals and career education. My goal, is for my clients not to need my services, for me to become obsolete. You may be thinking, what type of crazy business model is this? Well, there is no shortage of people in need of career management counseling. No matter whether the economy is good or bad, people need support, guidance and education throughout the stages of their career progression.

• How can clients prepare for the first session? Typically, your counselor will ask you to email your resume and any information about your career needs. Email the coach a request for an initial consultation. This gives you a chance to get to know your counselor and for the counselor to evaluate your career needs. If the counselor can meet your needs, you would complete a counseling agreement form and discuss payment structure. If your needs are outside of the realm of the counselors’ expertise, they will refer you to another professional.

How do I find a good counselor or check credentials? A licensed counselor, will have the training required, to access and interpret tests, which are not available to the general public. Typically, this would require a Master’s level person, with a Graduate Degree in Counseling Psychology. Also, there are certification exams and ethical codes of conduct which all licensed counselor must abide by.

• What should you look for in a “Virtual Counselor”? Questions to consider: You still need to do the same due diligence as if you were going to see a regular counselor. However, you can probably find out more about your counselor online, than you would about a regular counselor.

• Is your counselor licensed, for how long and is the license National, valid for the entire US or Canada?

• They should have a strong presence online and more advanced technical skills than a “bricks and mortar” counselor. Your counselor should be on LinkedIn and have membership in the top industry groups. They should also be active in professional associations.

• He or she should be a Career and Subject Matter Expert who writes for major Career Websites and Career Blogsites. You should be able to read about your counselors’ background and education online.

• Ask what is the client demographic your counselor serves? (age, gender, diversity, education and career issues). Find a counselor with experience.

• How many clients does your counselor see each month? You want a depth and breadth of experience. What is the typical wait time to get an appointment? Is there a wait-list?

What Happens When My Sessions Are Over?

Most counselors have an open door policy. Once you’ve been their client, you can return and purchase future sessions, even after long absences. Often clients will reconnect, when they want to brush up before a critical interview or before the start of a new team assignment or promotion. Career Coaching is a key component for success of many top executives – join their ranks and achieve the success you deserve.

How Do the Results Compare to Face to Face Counseling?

Research has found that Virtual Counseling is not only as effective, but actually more effective, than face to face counseling for many clients. Why?

• Clients are more relaxed and in a familiar setting, so some of the negative effects of traditional counseling aren’t present.

• Many individuals will be more honest in a virtual setting than in a face to face session. The anonymity of the virtual process is actually a plus.

• By eliminating geographic restrictions, you can receive a Career Tune-up at any time. You don’t have to worry about the geographic proximity of your coach, but can find the best coach, even if he or she is out of state.

To learn more or schedule a session - contact 404.791.0848.
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Readers' Choice: Career Transition Posts

Author: © 2009-2015 - All Rights Reserved - Sharon Cohen, MA, CPRP. Career Counselor and Career Transition Specialist


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    Susan Whitcomb

    Good points!

    An additional benefit to clients is that they can find a subject-matter expert who lives across the country to help with their career needs. I think the virtual format also allows the coach to listen more deeply. I just started working with a new client this morning who is 3,000 miles away... love the Internet!

    Sharon Cohen (*author)

    Thank you for the support. In my experience clients open up much more and really get to the issues faster via Virtual Counseling. Interestingly, my Baby Boomer and Gen X clients are the ones who request the Virtual counseling the most. They appreciate the ease of use and lack of commute time. My Gen Y clients often request face to face sessions. They site overuse of online, virtual communication and crave live communication.

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  11. Now a days we can have a long list of Career Consultants. But choosing the best among is very important as your future path depends on their guidance.

  12. I think this is a great idea! However, I have also seen ads for online counseling for other problems. What do you think? Does it work? It looks really convenient-- you just email back and forth.

    1. Do your due diligence. Always check the credentials, certifications and years of experience of any potential counselor. Is their career specialty also a match with your job-search target? Do they have LinkedIn recommendations from clients? Also, check that it's not a bait and switch. Some sites will have an experienced coach for the initial consult and then have a junior staff assigned to you afterwards.


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  15. Ruby,

    Thank you for your support. For clinical, psychiatric or any other (medical) type of counseling you will need to do your research.

    How to chose a counselor:

    Masters' degree in Psychology from a Nationally Accredited school. if a person requires prescriptions, you will need a PhD level physican/psychologist.

    8+ years of experience with clients (Ideally experience with clients similar to you)

    National certification and/or sub-specialty
    This requires ongoing education and adherence to a code of ethics.

    Compatible personality and connection. Someone who's ideas you connect with
    Sharon C.

  16. Hiring a career coach can be expensive, but if you hire the right career coach, their services will prove invaluable.

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