By Karolina Jurasik
While traditionally therapy was carried out face to face, distance communication between a therapist and client is not a new concept. Self-help groups began emerging on the internet as early as 1982! Today, hugely as a result of Covid-19 pandemic, there are numerous sites offering a variety of mental health services in an online form and this way of engaging with therapy is growing in popularity. Today, we invite you to explore the answers to most commonly asked questions about online counselling.
Can online therapy be as effective as face to face therapy?
The simple answer is – yes, it can. In our experience, it has proved to be a very successful way of working in both short and long term contracts with clients. These conclusions are also supported by psychological research. Online therapy and interventions used in the online setting have been found to have similar effectiveness as face-to-face therapy2 . It has also been demonstrated that clients who are receiving online therapy generally view the therapeutic relationship between themselves and their therapist positively3.
Is online therapy safe and confidential?
Just like with face to face therapy, client-therapist confidentiality is guaranteed with online therapy. You can rest assured that whatever you talk about during your session stays between yourself and us. Your health information and whatever you discuss in therapy is protected by law. However, some platforms or websites lack privacy safeguards and that’s why it’s important to choose the right kind of medium. Some apps like WhatsApp or FaceTime might not adequately protect your information. That’s why we choose to work with a HIPAA-compliant app – Zoom.
Can everyone find online therapy useful?
Majority of people will find online therapy useful. However, it doesn’t work for everyone and the deciding factor would be your individual circumstances. Online therapy is not always the best option if you have severe mental health difficulties, are in crisis or don’t feel safe where you live – in those cases you might require more intensive, in person care. Sometimes, it’s not suitable because of your living situation, which doesn’t allow much privacy or simply as a consequence of your preferences – like you have a strong inclination towards communicating in-person. If you’re unsure, whether online therapy is for you or not – please share your doubts with us and we will try to help you to assess your situation.
What are the advantages of online therapy?
There are many advantages of online therapy. The most important ones, in our view, are its accessibility and flexibility. Online therapy can be a great option for people living in rural communities, those who have no time to commute or those who do not drive. It can also help people who are unable or who find it difficult to leave their house due to physical disability or chronic illness. It allows for the therapeutic process to continue when you’re travelling for work or pleasure or plan to move away. Life can be very busy these days, so if you have very little time because of busy work schedule, childcare issues ect., having the possibility of meeting your therapist online can sometimes be the only way for you to engage and benefit from therapy. What we also observe is that for some people the level of comfort and familiarity connected with not having to leave the house results in the enhanced feeling of safety and ability to open up quicker and talk about issues that weren’t accessible before.
How to prepare for my first online appointment?
People usually experience some level of anxiety before their first counselling session, no matter whether it happens online or in person. When you’re getting to your face to face session you need to plan how you’re going to get there, how long it will take you ect. However, you don’t have to worry about the space as we do our best to provide you with a level of comfort in our office. It’s a little different when we meet online as the responsibility to make yourself comfortable lies on you. People sometimes struggle with that and so following a few simple suggestions might be helpful. The most important thing is privacy and making sure that you are in a space where it is unlikely that you will be heard or interrupted. This may require you to ask others in your space to respect your privacy by doing things like asking them to leave a house or turning on entertainment in another room. It is advisable that you are in the same place each week. Secondly, make yourself comfortable, but not too comfortable! If you can, choose a comfortable chair to sit in, put a box of tissues within your reach, get a glass of water or tea. Avoid laying in bed, walking around or eating as we talk. It is helpful to turn off all electronic devices unless you are using them to make the call. It is best to use headphones, to ensure clear sound as well as having your hands free. Lastly, try to give yourself an additional 10-minutes both before and after the session. This is so you can wander around, clear your head and allow the work we’ve done settle.
Do I need to have strong computer skills to attend therapy online?
This is a very common question and the simple answer is: no, you don’t. Your comfort level with technology is much more important than actual skills you have. We use a very safe but simple technology to connect with you, like Zoom. It can be set up and tested ahead of the session and if you’re still quite unsure how to use it, we would recommend that someone you trust helps you in the process. You can also watch a video which can guide you through it. Please reach out to us if you have doubts about being able to connect via an online platform.
Have any other questions? Please contact us at: email@example.com
- Barak, Hen, Boniel-Nissim, & Shapira, 2008; Cowpertwait &Clarke, 2013
- Barak et al., 2008; Cowpertwait & Clarke, 2013
- Hanley, 2009
- Lena M. Knechtel & Cynthia A. Erickson (2020): Who’s Logging on? Differing Attitudes about Online Therapy, Journal of Technology in Human Services, DOI: 10.1080/15228835.2020.1833810
- Lau, Poh & Jaladin, Rafidah & Abdullah, Haslee. (2013). Understanding the Two Sides of Online Counseling and their Ethical and Legal Ramifications. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences. 103. 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.453.