Studies show online counseling techniques are promising to help people feel better.
Psychologists Learning How To Use Online Therapy
By Juliana Easton, for GalTime.com
All signs point to in-person therapy still the king. But, more than ever before, adults in need of psychological help are turning to online platforms. For those not in the habit of complaining about their own problems or stressors, this can seem like the best way to seek help.
“Though the virtual treatment model is primarily focusing on helping people get better at managing their online efforts, perhaps they should not overlook the importance of helping people develop the skills necessary to deal with both online and offline problems,” says Dr. Jody Paul, a psychotherapist in the Windsor, Ontario, area and co-author of the book, The Art of Online Therapy.
1. Do you know how to effectively use online therapy?
Most mental health professionals I know are going to have some hesitation about the likes of YouTube or various forums. (Are they right about this? Read the interview with us right here.)
Certainly, in a therapeutic setting, there are guidelines for what you can and cannot discuss, says Dr. Paul. “There are different categories of information and behavior that is appropriate in therapy and inappropriate in treatment settings, and online therapy forms are often used for help in managing problematic behavior that often has online origins.”
2. What types of questions are effective for online therapy?
A lot of our clients will ask how they can ask open-ended questions of their therapist during online therapy sessions. At times, it can be a bit hard to be open and honest with your therapist. Sometimes, it’s beneficial to ask something that the therapist can use to explain themselves, or develop their next step. “Think of it like asking for a doctor’s referral for an MRI of the brain or other clinical assessment if you need it, or for a referral to your physician if you’re experiencing a problem and might be at risk of having a medical emergency,” says Dr. Paul. “It doesn’t have to be a question you might ordinarily ask in therapy, but it will help them evaluate your symptom set and can help them move you toward therapy on a more immediate basis.”
Related: Online Therapy and Therapists Who Are From N.Y.C.
or Time And Gender Theory, a personal check in from a friend could help you determine if the online therapy is right for you.
For example, around 20% of all online therapy appointments are therapeutic chats. Chat is a highly effective way to communicate with your therapist.
If you’re planning to speak with a therapist over the phone, this can be a good way to gauge if you’re getting the most help from them, says Dr. Paul. “This is because counseling via phone can be much more effective than face-to-face help when a client is suffering from symptoms that are related to specific, often emotional, circumstances of each visit. The phone is also a great tool for when you are dealing with issues that are specific to your needs and specific to your circumstances.”
Ultimately, it’s your choice. Find the right fit for you. Stay in touch with your therapist as much as possible, and, the next time you are offline for a few days, you can visit with them via webchat or phone chat and check in, says Dr. Paul. “Even before we started counseling,” Dr. Paul says, “we would participate in a 15-minute phone chat on average each week. The crucial difference between a brief phone call and a webchat is that the therapist will be able to see your body language and respond to you exactly as best they can. A webchat has the potential to be much more dynamic and more effective in helping people to come to terms with their problems, problems they may not have even realized they were dealing with.”
Author of The Art of Online Therapy: Helping People Treat Their Online Pressures, Meghan O’Dea, Jody Paul, co-author of Mapping Your Path To Co-Leadership (Elsevier Press, June, 2015), a professional in health psychology, and a CMO for the, Tom Farrell in Toronto, Canada.