Online Therapy 101

Updated: Jun 17

With social distancing becoming a reality across South Africa and globally, online therapy has been gaining in popularity. What can such a mode of therapy offer, in relation to traditional face-to-face therapy? And is this an effective way of therapeutic connection in these disconnected times? This article considers how online therapy works, and if it can work for you. As a counselling psychologist, I have experience providing online therapy - you can book your first appointment today.


What is Online Therapy?

Online therapy can be categorised under 'telepsychology', which is psychology done remotely. This may include therapy conducted via email, messages, apps, telephonically or through video call. Online therapy goes by many other names, such as video call therapy or e-therapy. Often it may even be known by the platform used, like Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp therapy. Online therapy can be done exclusively where the therapist and client will only speak online, or can be in conjunction with traditional face-to-face counselling sessions.


Is Online Therapy for Me?

There are numerous reasons why a person may choose to seek online counselling, such as:

  • Lack of mobility

  • Health concerns

  • Travelling or relocation

  • Inaccessibility

  • Anxiety or phobias

Recently, with health concerns rising around COVID-19, and many countries in lockdown, online therapy has become a safe way to stay home and still receive therapeutic support. Firstly, it is important to note that while online therapy has been in use since the advent of the internet, it is still new and as such has not had the same level of usage and research as traditional forms. Counselling online can come with many benefits, but potential downsides. Ultimately, the decision to receive online therapy is best made by contacting a therapist and discussing this.


However, online therapy does have its critics. It can privilege those who have access to digital technology, further deepening the digital divide. Moreover, some debate whether online therapy may have drawbacks compared to face-to-face interaction, given what may be lost through a digital connection. What is clear, is with the growing digitisation in our globalised workplace, psychology will be pushed into new frontiers and have to find its place in an increasingly technological world.

  • Pros: Easy, convenient, flexible, accessible, new possibilities,

  • Cons: Requires digital access, privacy concerns, not suitable for an emergency, feel more distant

What is clear, is with the growing digitisation in our globalised workplace, psychology will be pushed into new frontiers and have to find its place in an increasingly technological world.

Which Platforms are Best?

This is a very tricky question, because the answer largely depends and moreover technology is constantly changing. However, I will consider some primary contenders, and address issues such as:

  • Easy of use and accessibility

  • Security

  • Cost

  • Features

Zoom

Zoom, which has enjoyed increased usage and popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, has been recently criticised for various security concerns, with promises to increase safety on the platform. However, Zoom has many security features including password-protection and a waiting room that allow the careful user to ensure relatively privacy. Furthermore, the free version has a range of capabilities. Zoom is also very accessible, with an app available for most devices, and also accessible in a desktop browser. Joining a meeting is relatively simple but secure, with a link or ID and a password. As such, it is my choice for online therapy. Further features on Zoom include: chat, screen sharing and annotating, group calls and more - although many features, like lengthy group calls, are only accessible with a paid subscription.

WhatsApp

FaceTime

Skype

Telephone


What is my Approach?


I primarily work using Zoom, given its accessibility and security. Ultimately, I aim to make online therapy as similar as possible to meeting face-to-face in a therapy room. In this sense, beginning online therapy is similar to beginning therapy in general. On my side, I ensure a quiet and private space. I encourage my clients to ensure the same, and they may also like to have tissues or water with them for the session. Moreover, the booking and consent process is also online, for ease of access and convenience.



If you have more questions you can look at my Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) under the Online section or read more on my website. Alternatively, feel free to see the services I offer online and book your first appointment today.






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