Nuances of Online Counseling

Via the Online Counseling Network (OCN), counseling faculty statewide are participating in synchronous online counseling which allows them to replicate a face-to-face (f2f) meeting. Working this way has revealed nuances that counselors need to be aware of. I will share two today.

Eye Contact

The position of your computer camera can impact your eye contact as it can present a nonverbal appearance that you are distracted or uninterested even though you may be staring directly at the student on your computer screen. Camera placement can make a significant difference in how you build rapport online. If you have a camera embedded in your computer monitor, I recommend you adjust your monitor to a position where your camera and eyes are horizontally aligned and level. Positioning your camera in such a manner will present a level of eye contact similar to your f2f counseling appointments. If you have a camera separate from your computer monitor, I recommend you either purchase a stand so that you can place the camera at eye level or buy a camera that you can place on the top of your computer monitor and adjust to your eye level.

Student Engagement

During an online counseling appointment, student participation is an essential component to address student learning outcomes (SLO). For example, many counseling departments include an SLO focusing on applying educational planning so that students can identify course requirements that enable a student to pursue their educational goal/s (e.g., associate degree and transfer requirements). A vital nuance is to allow students the ability to moderate some of the session so they can navigate resources such as your online catalog, key websites (e.g.,, and other vital components that enable students to build a meaningful educational plan that is collaborative and critical to the learning process. As a result, students are increasing their educational cultural capital which contributes to their success and college readiness. Educational cultural capital is student’s mastery or preparedness of the college student role (Aschaffenburg & Maas, p.573, 1997). 2008), so the more educational cultural capital a student has then, the students will gain a more in-depth knowledge of their academic expectations.

One of the aspects as a community college counseling faculty I enjoy is growing my knowledge base and implementing new strategies in my counseling sessions, as this helps me become effective in my approach with students. The more you take time to engage in online synchronous counseling  the more you will implement effective practices that address the nuances of online counseling. Stay tuned for future posts that discuss other nuances when providing synchronous online counseling.

To learn more about Online Counseling check out our webpage


Posted in Articles, counseling, Course Design Showcase, Rubric Section A.

Adrean Askerneese is a counselor at MiraCosta Community College.

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