Does online psychotherapy make sense?
Currently, due to the epidemic caused by the coronavirus, most psychologists and psychotherapists have stopped working face-to-face and accept their patients online by connecting with them through various communicators such as Skype, Zoom, etc. Keep on reading to know more
This is the form of both new consultations and the continuation of the existing ones therapies that had to be changed online due to the epidemic Does online consultation make sense ? Is online psychotherapy effective? Can only psychotherapy started before the epidemic take place in this form? Can new consultations be held online?
The main thing to watch out for is the difference between an online psychological consultation and an online psychotherapy. The first one usually consists of several meetings (between 1 and 3) and is used to gather information and define the problem, as well as to propose and discuss a specific form of help.
Sometimes, if the problem is not too complex, sufficient information can be obtained during the consultation and psychotherapy is not necessary. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, is a process that consists of a series of meetings aimed at solving the patient’s difficulties.
The consultation also serves to assess whether psychotherapy is a good solution for a given patient, and it is also a space for explaining and telling about the process.
Even before the coronavirus epidemic, there were many myths surrounding online psychotherapy. Starting with the fact that you never know who is sitting on the other side, that the link keeps getting hung up, that it is impossible to start new processes online, that an instant messaging conversation is not real conversation, to the point that you cannot connect in this way real relationship, and as a result, the patient cannot be helped.
From my observations it appears that the most common fear of patients about online therapy is the fear of the inability to establish a relationship with the therapist.
Patients are concerned that without direct live contact it is impossible to get to know the other person, and thus it is impossible to fully introduce oneself, and the relationship and therapeutic alliance cannot be established.
Nothing could be more wrong. Practically the same processes take place in online therapy. that happen during therapy in the office. We see and hear the therapist, we observe his facial expressions, gestures and reactions.
The role of the therapist is to create working conditions in which he can be fully focused on the patient and get rid of all distracting factors. It is very important that during the online session we do not feel that the therapist is busy with other activities, e.g. receiving an e-mail, Messenger, brewing coffee, talking to someone else.
The same rules apply to patients. Comfort, peace and lack of distractions is just as important during a meeting in the office as well as online meetings. The conducted research confirms the thesis that with proper conditions, online therapy has no negative impact on the therapeutic relationship.
My experiences also show that that online psychotherapy performs exactly the same function as sessions conducted in the office in the presence of a therapist, and it is an absolutely wholesome type of therapy.
Naturally, when we have a choice, we prefer to meet in person, but when there is no such possibility, the online session can bring practically the same results. Due to the epidemic, online therapy is practically the only form of psychotherapy, but before the appearance of the coronavirus, some patients consciously opted for this form of work and they underwent exactly the same therapy process as patients in the office.
The most common reasons for undertaking online therapy were distance, change of place of residence, illness, disability, working hours that make it impossible to show up at the office, and many others.
Of course, any change, any form of contact other than the current one can be stressful, so let’s take the time to get used to the new form and be able to take full advantage of the session. An important element is also a thorough discussion of the so-called setting, i.e. the principles on which the therapy will take place.
If we have met the therapist in the office so far, we should discuss the therapeutic contract and the rules of working together again. Let’s look at our fears, feelings, reactions and let the therapist openly inform about them. Thanks to a clear message, it will be easier for us to feel good about this change.
It is difficult to say how long we will be forced to work online, but we are sure of one thing – online consultations and psychotherapy prevent regression, we continue to work with ourselves and on ourselves, we do not back down, we do not forget about what we have already achieved in therapy, and each subsequent session brings us closer to a specific goal. Let’s give ourselves a chance :).