What is it? Will it help?
In these troubling times, the importance of online therapy has become more apparent than ever. With the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak forcing many people to stay indoors, it might seem like there is nowhere to turn for help in times of distress. What’s more, studies have shown that staying indoors can amplify the negative effects of mental health problems, particularly if those affected feel that they are trapped and have little avenue of escape.
For people seeking help or suffering from mental health problems, the ability to reach out to a professional online offers a solution. Many therapists have now made online counselling services a large part of their practice.
Online therapy can help you if family and friends are not close to hand or if you need professional help when face-to-face options aren’t possible. Speaking to someone via a phone call or online – for example, through a video conferencing platform or smartphone app can help you explore your feelings and make positive steps without having to leave your comfort zone.
Below are reasons why now more than ever would be a good time to consider on-line therapy as an option.
During this period of national (and international) quarantine and the requirement to stay at home, one of the best things about online therapy is how accessible it is. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can contact someone no matter where you are. Often online therapists can have greater flexibility on appointments, and you’ll be able to book appointments at a time that suits your schedule.
COVID-19 has highlighted the issue but for some people, face to face appointments are simply not possible. For example, you may suffer from a disability that prevents you from leaving the house or live in rural or remote areas. You might suffer from social phobia (e.g. agoraphobia) or be in an unstable or dangerous family situation that might make it harder to venture out.
It is effective
There is evidence that online therapy can be as effective – if not more effective in some cases – than face-to-face therapy. A study published in 2018 declared that computer therapy for anxiety and depression disorders is ‘effective, acceptable and practical health care’.
The implication is that both online and physical therapy can offer good results and – depending on your preference and circumstances – may be the right option for you.
There is now an abundance of ways to talk to people online which facilitate online counselling or therapy. Platforms such as Skype and Zoom (and many others) are good for one-to-one conversations and ideal for online therapy.
Because online therapy can be carried out alone, without some of the usual social interactions that might otherwise be involved (e.g. getting someone to drive you to an appointment), it can help foster a feeling of independence, as well as helping you open up more about certain topics.
Privacy and anonymity
Online therapy can feel like a more private affair, making the whole process less intense and formal-feeling than a one-to-one meeting, and allow people to dip their toe into the water. It might help you feel that you can give a more comprehensive picture of yourself when speaking from the comfort of your own home.