For some, the beginning of online therapy dates back to 1960, when new information and communication technologies or ICTs were used in the field of health to send radiographic images. From there on out, the most “difficult” thing is choosing the psychologist that suits you best, Here is an article about what you should ask here yourself and your potential therapist who can help you on that topic.
The general opinion is that we are witnessing the birth of a new way of giving therapy: online therapy. This modality offers many advantages and opportunities for clinical work.
For example; send messages between sessions to reinforce appropriate behaviors, record a session for further analysis, have a website to provide self-help or psychoeducational information, and even design virtual reality exposure therapy online.
However, this modality, although useful and with great potential, is not without prejudice, criticism, and little use.
What is online psychological therapy?
Online therapy is a modality and treatment option that is increasingly common and frequent in our days. The best known and most used modality is through videoconferencing, where a user and a professional psychologist have real-time contact through a computer or mobile device.
The procedure of psychotherapy is similar to that of face-to-face therapy with some adjustments and variations. Here you can see something more about psychotherapy.
What is online psychological help like and how does it work?
As we mentioned in the previous question, online psychological therapy is normally conceived as a video conference session. However, it can be via chat, e-mail, through a website, and/or video recordings.
As in a face-to-face appointment, the steps are the same, usually, the client contacts the professional, requests an appointment and attends the session, only in online sessions it is through a computer or mobile device.
Both must have a camera and a microphone on their device, nowadays most people with access to a cell phone, laptop, and internet already have what is needed for online psychological therapy.
Can online therapy help me with my problem?
An evaluation would have to be done first, most cases in psychology have to do with anxiety, depression, couples therapy, and parent education to address behavioral problems in children, in these types of cases the evidence shows that online therapy is quite useful and shows to be a good option.
There are some cases where online therapy is not yet recommended, not because it is not effective, but because the evidence is still gathering about the effectiveness of this treatment modality in cases such as thoughts or suicide attempts, gender violence, recent sexual abuse, high substance use, anorexia or bulimia.
What does the research say about the effectiveness of online therapy?
Some articles consider that this field is new and a lot of research is needed, however, the evidence collected so far shows that online therapy is effective for cases such as depression and anxiety as well as face-to-face.
It is assumed that online therapy is not recommended for some severe or high-risk cases (for example people with suicidal tendencies, severe eating disorders, borderline disorder, etc.), however in 2013 as part of a quality assurance study, the researchers followed the results of 359 patients who took an online therapy program and observed great effects after treatment in patients with severe symptoms or suicidal tendencies.
Although the results to date are quite encouraging, the research is progressing slowly, largely due to substantially ethical considerations for research designs.
What does the research say about the internet and clinical psychology?
Research evaluating the use of the internet in clinical psychology has yielded encouraging results. For example:
- when measuring the satisfaction of the therapist and the user with the new technology;
- when comparing the effectiveness of these tools concerning waiting lists and traditional interventions;
- favorable results when doing the cost analysis
- and when doing meta-analysis or review
In short, there is sufficient scientific evidence to justify the incorporation of the internet as a clinical tool; The data indicates that the use of the internet in clinical psychology is accepted by users and is efficient in terms of results, so it is advisable to normalize and expand its use to take advantage of its benefits, which in our time, 2020, is something accomplished.
In the year 2020 it is not at all unusual to make online reservations, confirmations by WhatsApp, send tasks via inbox, follow up by chat, and have sessions by videoconference.
What is the difference between cybertherapy and online therapy?
Cyber therapy, online therapy, and distance therapy are considered by most people to be the same. The truth is that they are not although currently in common slang it is called online therapy to a distance therapy and given the technological advances, they assume that said distance therapy is by videoconference, it is interesting to see how fast the technology has advanced, What is now a no-brainer a couple of decades ago was unthinkable.
Online therapy can be remote or not, it can be assisted by a psychologist or not, remote therapy can be synchronous or asynchronous communication, via chat, telephone or videoconference, etc. For reasons of this article, we call online therapy “distance psychotherapy by videoconference in real-time assisted by a professional psychologist”.
In this sense, the most obvious difference between cybertherapy and online therapy is that the former is mostly assisted by a computer or computer and currently by mobile devices. Online therapy involves bringing conventional psychological therapy face-to-face to a video conferencing platform, such as Skype or Zoom, obviously with some adaptations and adjustments, which implies several advantages and disadvantages as we will discuss later.
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