What is it?
Online therapy is defined as therapy/counselling that is provided over the internet. Other terms for online therapy are teletherapy, cyber counselling and e-therapy. Key methods that we use include email, video calls and instant messaging. We sometimes mix methods too – for example, you may have a video session and then choose to revert to email for further sessions.
Email therapy can be described as writing a journal that answers back, helping you explore and reflect on your words, thoughts and feelings with a professional alongside you. Emails are shared over an agreed length of time. For example, you may choose to send an email every Tuesday and your counsellor will agree to respond to this within 2 days. Email therapy gives you time to review your thoughts in your own time.
Using a secure encrypted video platform, you will attend a session at an agreed time – this is the most similar to traditional face to face sessions. You will need a private space and secure internet connection for the session.
Instant messaging (IM)
Therapy via IM is exactly what it says – you and your counsellor will work in real time and exchange instant messages via a secure encrypted platform.
It’s been around a long time!
The Covid19 Pandemic has certainly raised the profile of online therapy. Most counsellors have needed to adjust their practice out of necessity to enable them to be able to continue to support their clients in alternative ways to face to face. However, what many people (including many counsellors!) are surprised to know is that online therapy has a relatively long history and is an established method for many therapists.
Telephone support for mental health can be traced back to the 1960s but it was probably during the 1990’s and the surge of technological developments that it began to develop itself as a distinct method of delivery. Email and real time chat became available during the ‘90s and this was quickly followed by video therapy becoming more common place during the 20’s. More recently there has been a huge growth in mental health websites and apps to support mental wellbeing.
Safety and Ethics
Specialist professional organisations provide guidance, training and support to ensure that therapists are working safely*. Online therapy isn’t just someone jumping on Zoom! It’s a method of delivery that is well researched, increasingly evidence based and has it’s own ethical guidelines and specialist training for therapists.
- *ACTO (the association for counselling and therapy online) https://acto-org.uk/
- *Online therapy institute. https://www.onlinetherapyinstitute.com/
Is it for everyone?
Online therapy is suitable for many issues including loss, grief, bereavement, anxiety, depression, low mood, trauma.
HOWEVER – it is not suitable for severe psychiatric/mental health conditions, or addictions. These require more specialist and most likely face to face support. It is also not suitable for crisis situations where immediate help is required.
It’s an exciting time for the delivery of therapy – and we believe the growth of online therapy is making it more accessible and offering more options to support people in ways that suit different styles of communicating.
There are also very exciting developments utilising avatars, second life and even talk of holograms!
There is more information on our main website pages www.themindmob.co.uk