We spend much of our lives online these days and increasingly more services are available online that traditionally would have been conducted face to face. This is the same with psychotherapy and counselling, and there is a growing availability of online therapy services around on the internet. So, is online therapy for you?
There are many ways to engage in therapy online, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll be considering online therapy that uses live video. This can be done with apps such as: Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, FaceTime, BotIM etc. Whatever app is used, the most important thing to consider is the security. Only use an app that has a secure and encrypted connection.
There are many benefits to having therapy online and the most obvious might be the convenience of it. Rather than having to spend time travelling to a clinic, you can be at a location of your choice where you feel comfortable. This might be at home, in a private office at work during your lunch break, or anywhere where it is confidential and you won’t be overheard or disturbed. However, you will need to consider what you will do after the session has ended. Do you have time to compose yourself before you step outside the room and back to the office or family life?
Another benefit of working online is that you might have a greater choice of therapists available to you. Rather than having to choose those in your local area, you can work with the therapist of your choice wherever they are in the country. This can be particularly beneficial if you live in a remote area, or live abroad and want a therapist who speaks your native language. Additionally, if you travel around a lot, it can make it possible to access therapy wherever you might be.
Another advantage of online therapy is that it can make it easier to engage with therapy if you are anxious about going to a clinic in the first place, or have any difficulties with leaving home or accessing certain locations. Being able to engage with your therapist online can remove any of these potential barriers and you can get the support you need.
A lot of people wonder if online therapy is as good as face to face therapy, and that is an important point to consider. Certainly, there is a big difference. The rapport and connection you have face to face with a therapist will be different to what you build online. Some of the non-verbal clues to communication can be lost online so it’s important to be able to tell your therapist if they haven’t understood you, or if you don’t understand them. However, once you get used to working online with a therapist, the distance and technology can ‘disappear’ and you can feel very connected with your therapist.
Here are a few points you might want to consider if you want to access therapy online:
- You will need to have a good, stable internet connection for the duration of your session.
- It is best to have a few connection options available – such as wifi and data, and a couple of different options of apps – such as Skype and Zoom, to allow for tech difficulties.
- You need to be comfortable working online and familiar with the tech you are using. It’s a good idea to turn off any notifications for the duration of your session as these are very distracting when you are trying to work with your therapist.
- You need to ensure that the location you are in is private and confidential.
- You should check the credentials and qualifications of your therapist before you engage in any online therapy. There is a growing number of people setting up online as ‘therapists’ with little or no training. Make sure your therapist is registered with a professional body such as UKCP.
Dr Simon Cassar is an integrative existential therapist, trained in Person Centred Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT), and Existential Psychotherapy. He is available in our Hove and Lewes clinics and also works online.
Further reading by Dr Simon Cassar –