The COVID-19 crisis was a difficult moment in history. However, it did help some things move forward, faster. That is the case with online therapies, which had to be thought of and brought to patients rapidly, during the lockdown periods, as patients were suffering even more, due to their isolation, and could not see their Doctor. Now, online therapy has gained a lot of ground. But is it a good solution?
Seeing a doctor online is something that is now commonly accepted. Not just for therapy, but also when you have a physical problem. Both received their acceptance during the coronavirus crisis, when it was deemed safer for both doctors and patients to be kept away from each other. It became obvious that the one solution which was left, was having appointments through video calls. This is how online therapy became a common thing. A good example of such method is Betterhelp in the UK, which offers these types of services.
Online therapy doesn’t need much. Naturally, it involves a patient and a licensed therapist (or a counsellor), as well as two devices that can connect them together, through the use of internet. It can be a PC, a phone or a tablet. Both will have to use a video call software, so that they can see each other, through their device. Of course, the sound has to work on both ends, if they want to be able to communicate and talk about the current issues going on in the patient’s life. Online therapy is also known as e-therapy.
Now that we have moved on from the days of lockdown, why would someone want to remain in e-therapy instead of visiting his therapist? Actually, there are many reasons, which we will now explain one by one.
Mental issues take many forms. One of them creates a fear of going outside. Some patients needed to see the therapist in their own house before, as they could not reach their office by themselves. With online therapy, they can now attend their weekly meeting, without leaving their house, but the doctor can also be in his office, as they proceed. It makes it much easier for both of them to connect. Naturally, this shouldn’t be a permanent solution for patients suffering from this issue. Otherwise, they will never go out of the house again. But it certainly helps make things easier, for the first part of the treatment, and in case of emergency (which leads us to the next point).
Suffering from mental illness is very different than having physical issues. Sometimes, your mind goes out of control, and you find yourself needing help, just about anywhere you could be. That is the case with powerful panic attacks, when a patient suddenly feels like he is going to die, or at the very least, is placed in a position of danger that he cannot control. All this is only a game that the mind plays, but the symptoms are quite real and severe. Thanks to online therapy, it is possible for a patient to get in touch with his therapist, in a moment of major crisis, no matter where each of them is located, at the time. This can decrease the fear that the patient has of going places, simply knowing that his doctor will be there to help, if need be. The simple existence of e-therapy can actually be a solution to these patients panic attacks, as they won’t have to call in as much, feeling secured that they will get the help they need immediately, if they need it. However, it can also create the reverse effect for some other patients, who will start calling their therapist too frequently. It would then become another mental issue to solve, which is dependency.
One thing that is rarely spoken of, is the fact that many patients who have mental issues, already suffered from physical problems, before they started. If you are in a wheelchair, for example, you may develop mental difficulties, as you need to review your life, being unable to participate into many activities that you used to do. This problem can also affect your capacity to move around the city, to get to the therapist. Therefore, e-therapy becomes the solution of choice for people with various handicaps. It offers them the capacity to choose any doctor, wherever their offices are, since they don’t have to actually go there, physically. It is also true for people that travel a lot. If you find yourself 6,000 km away from your doctor and you suffer from a mental incident that you need to deal with rapidly, then online therapy just might save you, in that moment.
Online therapy has made its proofs, over the last two years. Now, research shows that there is no difference in the results between online therapy and physical one; at least for a large variety of mental issues. This is true for mild depressions, anxiety disorders and panic attacks. It has even showed that it can definitely help people with gambling issues much better, as they can be stopped at the very moment that they need to be: When the person is about to gamble his money away.
It is obvious that not having to move from one point to another is less costly than if you have to make your way to the therapist office. But the truth is, the services offered online are also less expensive than the ones being practiced in offices. The therapists that chose to work online don’t have to invest as much in their studio, which is part of the reason why they charge less per session, as well. Add to this that you can basically choose the best moment at home, when you are calm and free to talk, and it fully explains why e-therapy has become a preferred solution by many patients with mental health issues.