Each person copes with mental health issues in different ways. For some, self help can be the course of action, while others throw themselves out into the world in search of help. Naturally, it also really depends on the specific issue a person is dealing with. When out looking for help, you need to be able to distinguish between the various options available to you, so you can figure out which one suits you the most.
Online therapy is a relatively new trend that aims to replace traditional therapy altogether. While that’s clearly not true, getting help online certainly does have some merit and can in fact be highly effective in many situations. In this article we’ll try and explain when can online therapy be a good alternative to in-person counselling, and where are the best places to find online therapy at.
What Exactly Is Online Therapy?
Unlike traditional counseling which involves face to face meetings with a therapist (usually on a weekly basis), online therapy offers help in a completely digital environment that is not only convenient but in which a person can feel totally at home. Not only that, but this therapy module allows for much flexibility and enables patients to fit the best treatment regime for their particular situation.
The way these services can be accessed include mobile apps, exclusive hotlines, video conferencing, text message, email, phone calls or any other platform where conversation on counselling can take place virtually and not physically.
Issues regarding mental health are considered by many to be personal and intimate in nature, and as such people often refrain from discussing such topics in person – even when speaking (and paying) to a therapist. With online therapy, a person can easily overcome the stigmas attached by getting support and advice from a licensed counselor in total privacy on your device, as most platforms allow you to remain anonymous while accessing their service.
Having said that, despite the potential benefits which can be obtained from web therapy, psychologists have advised to tread with caution. While some patients are reaping the benefits of the quick responses via text messages from online therapists, there are cases where these technological tools work only when used in conjunction with in-person therapy.
Some experts have argued that any type of therapy which is not face to face robs the counselor of an important means of observation. Gestures such as facial expressions, voice tones or body language can transmit important information that can only be passed on when sitting in the same room as the therapist. Not only these signs help a therapist understand the patient more, but it is estimated that talk therapy is highly effective in treating deep-rooted issues like moderate to severe depression by literally changing the way your brain process it.
Studies have, however, revealed that in fact online therapy and traditional therapy each have their own flaws and advantages. While finding a credible online service can be easier for a client, the treatment provided may only be effective for those individuals who are not in the midst of any major crisis or those with non-suicidal tendencies that do not call for any major intervention.
Online Therapy Effectiveness With Mental Health Issues
Depending on your mental issues your treatment may require a single session, a short course lasting a couple of weeks or months, or a longer course over several months to a year or two.
During your appointment you will be asked to convey your emotions and feelings to a professional therapist who will then find the way to solve these problems. This advice will take place through the phone, email or online through live chat services. It will take a number of sessions to show improvement, so confidence is the key in your relationship with your therapist.
In that regard, online therapy is no different than any other form of counseling. The major difference lies in the specific issues it is most suited to help with. Numerous studies have shown that online therapy is mostly effective when employing CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) related techniques, due the usually short duration of such treatments and the focus on clear, tangible results.
CBT is often used to deal with anxiety, stress and depression. As its name suggests, it has also proven to be highly effective with fixing behaviour related issues such as addiction, OCD, sleep or eating disorders and ADHD. People who suffer from any of these can benefit tremendously by the availability of a counselor on chat that can offer support on a daily basis and help them build a sturdier regime through healthier, more productive thought patterns.
Charities And Voluntary Organisations
There are a number of charities and organisations which offer counseling, especially in the areas of bereavement, family guidance and couple counseling. You can also access support groups through your local community or social services.
Panic disorder, anxiety and depression can be treated with guided self-help. You get the support of a therapist who guides you through a CBT based work book or a computer course. The best part is that you can even use these tools long after the course has ended.
Serious Mental Health Illness
Issues such as schizophrenia, panic disorder, bipolar disorder or depressive disorder may sound scary but it is important to note that they can be treated. Individuals afflicted by any of these diseases have been known to recover and live a rewarding and meaningful life. To start moving the recovery process forward you can:
- Encourage loved ones to help: Family members can be an invaluable resource for those individuals who are dealing with severe mental illness symptoms.
- Medications: Many serous mental health cases can be controlled by medication. This will take time as medicine alone cannot keep the disease in check.
- Specialist mental health services: These different health services are usually co-ordinated by a community mental health team based in a hospital or a community health care centre.
- Mental health hotline: These hotlines are an excellent starting point for getting mental health advice as they have access to a wealth of resources and information. All calls are private and confidential which can help in making it easy for the customer to reveal their problems without any discomfort while sitting at home.
It’s important to note that such conditions require immediate help and online therapy will not be effective for dealing with them. If you are experiencing any of the above, or feel you might pose a threat to yourself or others, we encourage to seek help by going to your local emergency room or getting a diagnosis in person.