Online Counseling in Tertiary Institutions. Attitudes of Students towards new Counseling Methods

Bachelor Thesis, 2019

55 Pages, Grade: 3.0

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1.1 Background To The Study
1.2 Statement of the problem
1.3 Objectives Of The Study
1.4 Research Questions
1.5 Research Hypothesis
1.6 Significance of Study
1.7 Scope/Limitation of the Study
1.8 Organization of the Study

Conceptual Framework
Advantages of Online Counseling
Disadvantages of Online Counseling
Attitudes Toward Online Counseling and Face-to-Face Counseling of Clients or Potential Clients
Technology Integration in Higher Education
Distance Counseling Practices
Theory of Planned Behaviour
Empirical Works

3.1 Research Design
3.2 Population of the Study
3.3 Sample and sampling procedure
3.4 Research instrument
3.5 Data collection procedure
3.6 Data analysis

4.0 Introduction
4.1 Data presentation
4.2 Data analysis
4.2.1 hypothesis Testing
4.3 Discussion of finding

5.1 Conclusion
5.2 Recommendations



1.1 Background To The Study

Counselling is a purposeful, private conversation arising from the intention of one person to reflect on and resolve a problem in living, and the willingness of another person to assist in that endeavour (McLeod, 2013). Traditionally, counselling is a face-to-face encounter. It does not involve relationship conducted through telephone, television, fax, and letters of correspondence or other non-person modes of communication. The physical presence of two people serves to satisfy emotional needs that cannot be met in any other medium of communication (Taylor & Buku, 2006). However, due to technological advancement, another form of counselling has emerged in the developed world such as America and Canada. This form of counselling has been described as online counselling. Online counselling, according to Sanders and Rosenfield (1998), is a process which uses the medium of telecommunication technologies such as telephone, internet and teleconferencing. Barak and Grohol (2011) also defined online counselling as a mental health intervention between a patient or group of patients and a therapist using technology as the modality of communication. Online counselling can be an option to some individuals who cannot physically meet with their counsellors. Others also consider it as a complement to the traditional face-to-face counselling. Sussman (1998) has stated that three primary internet delivery methods are used very often by people of today. They are email, text-based chat and video conferencing. To Attridge (2004), although majority of online counselling are accomplished through email, text-based chat and video conferencing are also gaining grounds. Email counselling involves asynchronous distance interaction between the counsellor and client using what is read via text to communicate (National Board for Certified Counsellors, 2001). Video conferencing is an effective tool for the delivery of online counselling services. Attridge (2004) stated that the system uses personal computer, a webcam and video conferencing software. Currently, a lot of smart phones have this video conferencing feature which is more easy to use. The WhatsApp application which is downloaded and installed on smart phones can also be used for online counselling, since it has quality audio-visual features. Online counselling has a number of benefits to the client. In a university setting where students are very busy, they may experience scheduling difficulties that affect their ability to engage in the usual traditional office based counselling sessions. They may find the online counselling more suitable to their fast-paced lifestyle. In addition, some students may prefer the distant form of communication because it allows them to freely express themselves hence, are more comfortable showing their feelings through this medium. Some students may also see online counselling as non-threatening and having an appealing plan (Attridge, 2004). University students in Ghana are familiar with technological gadgets such as smart phones. A number of researches in Ghana have stated that students use the Internet a lot (e.g. Brafi & Arthur, 2013; Oluwatimilehin, 2014 ) and that mobile phones are the most used devices to access the web all the time (Frimpong, 2015). In addition, Dery, Vroom, Godi, Afagbedzi and Dwomoh’s (2016) study on the knowledge and use of information and communication technology by health sciences students of the University of Ghana revealed that their knowledge about computer was high and about 83 per cent of the respondents indicated they owned a computer. Thus, Nigeria students have access to electronic gadgets and could use them for online counselling purposes. It is, however, important to note that having access to an electronic gadget is one thing and possessing a positive attitude towards online counselling is another. A number of researchers have investigated students’ attitudes towards online counselling. Leibert, Archer, Munson and York’s (2006) study revealed that their clients rated online counselling favourably, but their satisfaction scores were lower than the scores for clients who attended face-to-face counselling. In addition, the study of Finn and Bruce (2008) discovered that clients appeared to have generally positive attitudes towards online counselling. Their study also reported that client ratings of online counsellors showed a high level of service satisfaction. Furthermore, Skinner and Latchford (2006) concluded that some important factors that motivated online clients were anonymity, convenience and emotional safety of the online environment. Clients, however, indicated concerns about confidentiality and technical difficulties as discomforts to them. In contrast, Chang and Chang (2004) investigated the Asian American and Asian international college students’ attitude towards online counselling and found out that students had less favourable attitude towards online counselling as compared to seeking help by traditional face-to-face means. In a related study, Rochlen, Beretvas and Zack (2004) discovered that participants rated face-to-face counselling more positively than online counselling. From the foregoing, it can be realized that online counselling is a modern approach to counselling and if introduced to students in Nigeria it would serve a useful purpose. However, little is known about online counselling in Nigeria. It is relatively a new approach to counselling.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The guidance counseling office currently is being challenged by various clerical problems that steal away most of their time from monitoring the status of the students. Most of these problems originate from the nature of their work since the guidance counseling office has to perform other tasks aside from doing counseling services. Their current information system can only do limited information management functionalities, and most of the record-keeping activities are done manually with lots of paperwork. Reaching out to students to monitor their problems and achievements is another challenging task since the office has very limited personnel. In response to these challenges, developing and implementing an online guidance counseling system is highly recommended. Not only that it will help make their work more efficient but also, help promote the utilization of their counseling services. The project appears to sound very promising. However, there have always been negative issues surrounding the use of online platforms where people can share and view sensitive information freely and without guidance. It is noteworthy to know that this kind of platform is not a replacement for a face-to-face guidance counseling service but rather a tool to help the guidance counseling office perform their task more efficiently in the institution. This kind of tool is also a valuable asset not just for the counseling office but the whole institution. Online platforms such as a guidance counseling system consider students sharing sensitive and classified information to the academic institution. Guidance counselors and school administrators, on the other hand, can study the data submitted by the students individually or collectively without compromising any ethical and privacy guidelines. Although there is no doubt this kind of tool can have so much value to academic institutions, one contributing problem that might hinder its success is the attitude of the students towards the project. An individual’s intent to use information technology can be affected by several factors. Since the proposed system is new to the community, understanding how the users perceive the system will significantly help in identifying what the system should do in the future. This, is the intent of this study.

1.3 Objectives Of The Study

The primary objective of this study is to examine the attitude of students towards online counselling. Specifically, the objectives are:

a. To determine the specific attitudes of students towards online counselling
b. To determine the attitudes of students towards online counselling with respect to gender

1.4 Research Questions

The research questions that guided the study are as follows:

1. What are the specific attitudes of students towards online counselling?
2. What are the attitudes of students towards online counselling with respect to gender?

1.5 Research Hypothesis

The following hypotheses guided the study.

1. H0: There is no significant difference in students’ expression of positive attitude towards online counselling on the basis of gender.

H1: There is significant difference in students’ expression of positive attitude towards online counselling on the basis of gender.

2. H0: There is no significant difference in students’ expression of negative attitude towards online counselling on the basis of gender.

H1: There is significant difference in students’ expression of negative attitude towards online counselling on the basis of gender.

1.6 Significance of Study

The study seeks to align with modern forms of communication and take a dive into a contemporary method of counselling. The study will expose the fusion of technology into guidance and counseling and expound how technology could be useful in counseling services. This exposition is useful both to the teacher-counselor and the student-counselor. It brings to their comprehension different or modern method of rendering service. In the case of this study, it highlights the current attitudes of students towards online counseling. This study however is a contribution to the discipline and a resource for further studies.

1.7 Scope/Limitation of the Study

The study is limited to online counseling. Related literatures were recognized but the focus of the study was maintained. The study is limited to tertiary institutions. It can be further carried out to incorporate other categorizes of people. The information collected from this study is furthermore limited to University of Uyo students who formed the sample size.

1.8 Organization of the Study

This study is organized in five different but related chapters. The first chapter highlights the study’s objectives, defines its scope and list the research questions. In the second chapter, various literatures were examined in line with the study’s problem. In the third chapter, we described the methodology employed to carry out the study. In the fourth chapter, we analyzed and interpreted the data retrieved from field survey; while in the fifth chapter, we summarize and concluded the study.



From the simplest and most ordinary acts to the highly complex and rare ones our species can perform — eating a fruit or spitting out a chili pepper, gazing intently into an infant ’ s face or scrupulously avoiding a neighbor, saving a life or taking one at a moment ’ s notice — we are creatures of preferences. Bundles of preferences characterize every living organism; without them, plants would not turn toward the Sun and cockroaches would not run away from it. In us, preferences exist not only in these built - in forms shared with other living beings but in distinctly human ways, such as the consciously molded attitudes we convey through artistic expression, the moral codes by which we judge our worth and our failings, or the words we craft to describe imagined utopias. The group that gave this concept scientific birth in the early 20th century chose attitude as the name to refer to such preferences. In this chapter, our intention is to review works and studies on attitude and online counseling from several authors, researchers and scholars. This review will b under three headings; the Conceptual, Theoretical and Empirical.


The Concept of Attitude

In both the psychological and the everyday usage of the term 'attitude', attitudes are treated as having both cognitive and motivational aspects, at least. If a person is said to have an attitude to a particular situation then we take it that he has some sort of opinion about it and some predisposition for action or at least for feeling with regard to it. But the problem in delimiting the concept of attitude is to distinguish attitudes from ordinary factual cognitions or beliefs on the one hand, and from more general motivational processes on the other. If that could not be done, then the study of attitudes could not be distinguished from the study of learning and motivation in general, and the concept might as well be dropped. That in fact was the conclusion advanced by L. W. Doob in his trend-setting attempt to incorporate attitudes into behaviour theory, Doob (1947) in Routledge (2008). He regarded them just as a variety of conditioned response, that is, as implicit (unobservable) mediating responses having both 'cue' and 'drive' properties. They are said to have these properties because they usually give rise to overt behaviour of some kind; unfortunately the occurrence of the latter is the only evidence for the existence of the former. They are distinguished from similar invented mediating processes only by being 'considered socially significant in the individual's society' (and even then, since they are 'implicit', it could only be the consequent overt behaviour that would be considered socially significant). Since nothing is said about them which could not be said about any other hypothesized implicit response, they subside into the featureless gruel of 'conditioned response-tendencies' and do not constitute a separate field of inquiry. Doob proposed that the term 'attitude' should be allowed to fall into disuse. D. T. Campbell's more recent formulations, despite their much greater complexity and sophistication, have, it seems to me, much the same import in the long run.

The Relationship between Attitudes and Cognitions Two psychologists who offer representative, though different, approaches to the definition of attitude are M. Rokeach and M. Fishbein. Although each of them makes valuable points, Doob (1947) in Routledge (2008) believes that neither of them quite identifies the distinguishing feature of attitudes. Rokeach regards them as belonging to the general field of cognitions. He says: 'An attitude is a relatively enduring organization of beliefs around an object or situation predisposing one to respond in some preferential manner. He contends that all beliefs have this motivating function: they are all 'predispositions to action', even those whose content is merely descriptive. He gives as an example his belief that Columbus discovered America in 1492. The action tendency of this belief might remain latent for years, but if he is leafing through two history books trying to decide which one to give his son, and finds that one gives the date 1492 and the other 1482, then his own belief that 1492 is correct will incline him to select the first book. The difficulty for this part of Rokeach's discussion, however, is that a different parent, one who for some unpleasant reason wanted his son to appear a dunce in history class, might select the book that said 1482 precisely because he believed it was a mistake. In the two cases, then, the same descriptive belief 'Columbus discovered America in 1492' would lead to opposite behavioural outcomes, and this might be so even for the same parent in different moods, so that one could hardly say that the belief had a specific action-tendency intrinsic to it. This point will reappear below, so here I will just suggest that it is not the case, as Rokeach claims, that 'the kind of action (a belief) leads to is dictated strictly by the content of the belief'. It is dictated by the relationship between the belief and the motives to which it becomes relevant. The action-neutrality of factual beliefs is actually one of the main criteria which distinguish factual beliefs or cognitions from attitudes, since attitudes (as we shall see) are necessarily not neutral with regard to action.

The Distinction between Attitudes and Preferences

We might bring out the particular nature of evaluation by looking in more detail at the distinction between attitudes on the one hand and likings or preferences or conditioned emotional responses on the other — any of the simpler motivational concepts which mean that some object or activity gives an individual pleasure or displeasure, or has been associated in his experience with reward or frustration and so calls out some positive or negative affect. I shall use 'preference' as the general term for this latter class of concepts. Now, an attitude can be distinguished from a preference by the fact that it involves a claim or justification: that is, an attitude is presented by its holder as a justified preference. Thus, if we consider only the actual content of the sentence 'Yes, I like to eat oysters' (for example) it does not express what should properly be called an attitude, if attitudes are evaluative. It does not assert that the eating of oysters is valuable in itself, it does not ascribe any characteristic to that activity, it merely asserts a particular psychological fact, the relation of liking between the speaker and the activity. In point of fact, however, the term 'attitude' has often been given such a broad reference that many people would regard the sentence 'Yes, I like eating oysters' as expressing an attitude, but while, as we know, one cannot legislate concerning usage, I am contending that that usage is loose, and that it certainly obscures a real and pertinent distinction — namely, that between evaluation and affect, or between attitude and preference. It is true that a sentence of that kind could be uttered with such an inflection that it conveyed an implied attitude, as if one were saying : 'Yes, (of course) I like eating oysters (because I am a person of good taste).' But the attitude would be conveyed by the implicit suggestion and not by the actual content of the sentence, and as a psychological fact it would be additional to the preference. The fact that is explicitly stated could equally well accompany an opposite attitude, thus: 'Yes, (I must confess) I like eating oysters (though I know it's vulgar to do so)', but it need not be accompanied by either. Preferences, then, are different from and logically independent of attitudes. This is much the same point as Rokeach was making when he said that a person may believe cigarette-smoking to be bad but enjoy it. It is the element of justification which distinguishes attitudes from preferences, and the justification is supposed to reside in some quality discernible in that object or activity to which the attitude is held. The claim to have 'good taste', for example, is a claim to be able to recognize the good.

Advantages of Online Counseling

An extensive review of the literature presents these perceived advantages of online counseling that are investigated in this study: accessibility, convenience and availability, sense of safety, anonymity, and elimination of social stigma. Online counseling is credited for being accessible to anyone who can log on to the Internet. This is true even among those who reside in remote areas or are geographically isolated (Cook & Doyle, 2002; Haberstroh, Parr, Bradley, Morgan-Fleming, & Gee, 2008), and those who have physical limitations and may not be able to leave the house (Cook & Doyle 2002; Maples & Han, 2008), have social phobia (Fenichel et al., 2002), and have tentative feelings about going through face-to-face counseling (Barnett, 2005). Thus, having internet access alone can enable a person to undergo online counseling. Online counseling is seen as convenient and readily available because clients can access counseling services at any time of the day, when they feel most in need of it, and even in the comforts of their home (Haberstroh, Duffey, Evans, Gee, & Trepal, 2007; Peterson & Beck, 2003; Richards, 2009). E-mail counseling, in particular, gives the perception that the counselor is available 24/7 due to its asynchronous nature (Manhal-Baugus, 2001). In turn, this allows counselees to receive instant advice or information from counselors (Griffiths & Cooper, 2003) even beyond normal office hours (Menon & Rubin, 2011; Young, 2005). Online counseling may increase the sense of safety because clients are able to receive help from the counselor within their home environment (Centore & Milacci, 2008). This may make it easier for them to disclose their personal issue and express themselves more fully. Anonymity creates a safe distance between the clients and therapists, thereby allowing clients to feel less defensive, less pressured, and less uncomfortable in disclosing embarrassing and very personal thoughts and behaviors (Bambling, King, Reid, & Wegner, 2008; Manhal-Baugus, 2001; Suler, 2000). Leibert, Archer,Munson, and York (2006) found that loss of nonverbal information, which is often cited as the main disadvantage of online counseling, is offset by the advantage of anonymity. Because the client does not have to be physically present in the clinic or office of the counselor, online counseling may be effective in reducing, if not eliminating, social stigma (Menon & Rubin, 2011). Not included in this study but are also considered advantages of online counseling are as follows: time delay, presence of a permanent record, writing as form of therapy, client autonomy and empowerment, and novelty. The time delay inherent in the asynchronous method of online counseling gives counselors and clients the opportunity to read, reread, and reflect on their thoughts, insights, questions, or stories. Moreover, clients may reply when they feel ready or when they have reflected on their experiences instead of being pressured to think quickly or being interrupted by the counselor (Centorre & Milacci, 2008; Haberstroh et al., 2008; Tuliao, Torres, & Hechanova, 2010). The electronic nature of online counseling provides counselors and counselees a permanent record of their conversations. Counseling transcripts are also easy to save and to access, which allows for monitoring of client’s progress, identification of counselor’s counseling style, or use for other future references (Pollock, 2006). Compared with face-to-face counseling, transcripts reduce the need to memorize and recall information. Rereading the transcripts could enable counselors determine which issues need to be discussed further in succeeding sessions (Tuliao et al., 2010). The act of writing gives the client control of the content, the pace, and depth of the written material, which can foster a sense of psychological safety (Wright & Chung, 2001, as cited in Richards & Vigano, 2013). Some counselees perceive writing or typing as therapeutic (Wright, 2002) as it can facilitate self-disclosure and ventilation that can promote self-awareness (Suler, 2000). Online counseling enhances patient’s autonomy in the therapeutic relationship and decreases the power differential between client and therapist. This is particularly evident in e-mail counseling where clients are allowed to transmit their ideas without interruption (Finfgeld, 1999; Yager, 2001).


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Online Counseling in Tertiary Institutions. Attitudes of Students towards new Counseling Methods
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education, online counseling, prince udoyen
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Prince Udoyen (Author), 2019, Online Counseling in Tertiary Institutions. Attitudes of Students towards new Counseling Methods, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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