To be brief, yes, online therapy is effective. This is evidenced by scientific research, and numerous special cases described by practitioners. The studies conducted were very versatile, and this includes the assessment of therapy results and its comparison with the classic options for help.
How Does Online Therapy Work During a Pandemic?
Online therapy was popular even before the isolation regime, but with the onset of a pandemic, all psychologists switched to online counseling. Is there a difference in the effectiveness of psychological work online and live therapy? Can all formats and directions be applied via video?
At the same time, a rather wide range of problems and diseases was considered: from anxiety and eating disorders to family conflicts. Detailed results of these studies are freely available on the Internet (for example, at pubmed.gov).
In short – 90% of those who seek help through the Internet believe that it helped them. Separate studies to compare the effects of full-time and online work have shown that they are on the same level.
You can also talk about the successful application of various methods when consulting online: from cognitive-behavioral and gestalt therapy to psychoanalysis. Apparently, the question is not which method works best online, but whether a specialist can adapt his professional skills to this format of work.
When is It Time to Consult an Online Therapist?
At the moment, strictly speaking, the contraindication to online therapy is the same as to psychotherapy in general – namely, the presence of a condition that requires another, emergency care (psychosis or an extremely serious somatic condition).
Online therapy is in demand for panic and other anxiety disorders, depression, family problems, sexual disorders, psychosomatic diseases, as well as for a wide range of psychological problems (self-doubt, communication difficulties, etc.).
In particular, in my online practice, complaints about anxiety, depression, and psychosomatic problems predominate.
- Individual Psychotherapy
During the pandemic, many people needed professional help from psychologists. In the case of individual therapy, professionals and clients are mostly satisfied: meetings succeed, trust arises, and deep contact develops. Customers like being comfortable in their favorite tea chair. Nevertheless, in some cases, it is difficult for people to find a quiet place at home if there are many relatives nearby during isolation.
Psychologists do not recommend working online with a fresh traumatic experience since there is no way to provide the necessary level of security and refer to other specialists if necessary. Here the client has a choice – to remain without support in an acute state or to receive it, but not in ideal conditions.
- Group Therapy
The issue of security and confidentiality in online groups is more acute than in individual sessions. There are many members of the group, and it is impossible to track whether someone is recording the session. At the same time, safety is a key moment for group therapy: clients talk about complex, shameful, and controversial episodes to several listeners at once.
Therapists agree that online group work is possible only in those approaches where the process is not based on the interaction between the participants, and for the presence of body-oriented or gestalt therapy, a person is required. There are disputes in the professional environment: some consider it unacceptable to transfer group therapy to the Internet and lose earnings, others try to adapt to new circumstances.
Work With Families, Children, and Adolescents
Working with couples and families online is possible, but exclusively on issues of maintaining the union, support, and soft resolution of conflicts. If people now have no opportunity to disperse, it makes no sense to go to family therapy and analyze whether they want to stay together or not. In such circumstances, the therapist helps to find the strength to support themselves and those with whom they are stuck in isolation.
It should be noted that there are age restrictions for online therapy, usually, it is difficult for children under seven to keep their attention on the screen.
During a pandemic, adolescents need special support, they are always at home with their parents and often experience a lot of pressure and control. This is more of counseling than therapy. But this is better than nothing. A psychologist can work online to help a teenager save himself, give him or her the opportunity to talk, to be with a person who does not require anything.
Nowadays, Many Professionals Are Offering Online Help, How to Choose?
A specialist who positions himself as an online consultant is usually actively represented on the Web. These are publications on professional portals, and communication on specialized forums, and pages on various social networks, etc.
Use the search engine to see publications and interviews of a specialist. Pay attention to the basic education, not just a line in the advertisement, namely the photo of diplomas, and the university that issued them.
Same thing with certificates. Any self-respecting specialist provides this information in the public domain.
The second step is to get acquainted with their work experience, this information can be obtained from the published resume or requested. Nevertheless, how it relates to the reviews of strangers about working with a particular specialist is up to you personally, however, do not forget about the fake reviews that are common on the Internet.
Take care of yourself and your loved ones!