3. Online Counseling for Migrant Workers: Challenges and Opportunities

Document Type


Publication Date



The advent of globalization and the changing landscape of international social and economic conditions have led to the rise of transnational labor migration. Among countries that export labor, the Philippines ranks as the second largest, with an estimated 11 million, or 10% of the population, leaving the country to work in various parts of the globe (Asian Migrant Centre, 2000; Philippine Overseas Employment Agency [POEA], 2012). Although overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) have helped uplift their families from poverty and improve the Philippines’ economy, there are social costs to labor migration. OFWs commonly report depression, loneliness, increased stress, discrimination, homesickness, and, for those illegally staying in the host country, experience abuse and being persistently fearful of possible deportation (eg, Ayalon, 2012; Briones, 2008; Lee, 2006). The families of OFWs also experience psychological distress as well. For instance, children whose mothers have left the country to work tend to be more angry, confused, and apathetic, and feel different from other children (Battistella & Conaco, 1998).

This chapter summarizes research on online counseling, particularly for Filipino migrant workers. Using data from an online counseling site created for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), it reports the profile of the consumers that use these services as well as their drives for seeking counseling support online. It also discusses the common issues migrant workers attempt to address during online counseling. We present the opportunities and challenges encountered by both counselees and counselors in online counseling. The chapter ends with a discussion of the prospects for online counseling and other technology-mediated interventions in addressing the psychosocial needs of migrant workers.