We are living in digital times. We send a Whatsapp message when we want to let someone know how our day has gone, after a long day we flop and the sofa and play Candy Crush on an iPad, we stay in touch using video chat to talk to far away friends and family, we write our to-do list on our phone and we google “how to (fill in the blank)”.
Despite technology being a part of our everyday, when we think of online therapy it can seem a little strange or unusual. Having been a Clinical Psychologist for a number of years now and being accustomed to seeing patients in-person, I also had my own doubts initially: Is online therapy useful? Does it work? Is it as effective as in-person therapy? Science has this to say:
A study published in 2018 in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders stated that online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) is “effective, acceptable and practical”. The study found that online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is as effective as in-person therapy for disorders related to depression and anxiety (panic disorder, social anxiety, general anxiety etc) Journal of Anxiety Disorders
In 2104, another study published in Behaviour Research and Therapy found that online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) is effective and less costly for anxiety disorders. The effects were shown to be long-lasting, with benefits evident a year after therapy had been concluded. Behaviour Research and Therapy
Also in 2014, a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders compared the efficacy of online and in-person therapy and found that online therapy is just as beneficial as in-person therapy. Journal of Affective Disorders
Armed with this information, I decided to begin seeing patients online and have since had the opportunity to treat a large number of clients who, for one reason or another, were unable to, or preferred not to, undertake in-person therapy. These patients included students, travellers, expats, migrants and their children, people who were unable to leave their houses due to physical or psychological limitations, or those who, after a long day would like to have some “me-time” in the comfort of their own home.
Online therapy allowed these people to access the psychological support that would have been otherwise unavailable to them. Their experiences allowed me to identify and witness firsthand the benefits of online therapy
Online therapy has understandably been growing in popularity over the last few years. With ever-increasing frequency we use the tools provided by technology and science to serve the most human of needs; connection.
Online therapy provides us with the opportunity to attend to our mental health, with the warmth and humanity of our therapist, from the comfort of our own home.
Proofreading and editing: Gráinne Keeshan