Five reasons why online therapy is the future
Let’s face it; the recent havoc created due to the pandemic has exposed the vulnerability of our healthcare systems. The recurring lockdowns and job losses have taken a heavy toll on both the physical and mental health of many.
As a result, anxiety and stress have forced people to seek online therapy right from the comforts of their home. The World Health Organization estimates that about 14% of the global population suffers from some kind of mental health issue and 75% of those in need are not able to receive any treatment.
In developing countries, millions of people are not able to assess mental health care because of the social stigma attached to it.
About 35% students had one of the common lifetime mental disorders such as depression, generalized anxiety, panic, alcohol and substance misuse. Online counseling carries the potential to meet the unmet mental health needs and employ innovative delivery methods to reach out the millions of people who need counseling.
Online therapy has exploded
Online therapy and counselling were already being used, but the demand and popularity of the therapies online has spiked in recent months. Social isolation, high unemployment and fears related to coronavirus have only driven the anxiety rates. Many health practitioners have been unable to see their patients in person and have shifted to offering their services online.
Explosion of new theologies have indeed created new opportunities in the field of health care. Today, it is becoming much easier to provide easily accessible and affordable therapy online. Mental health professionals, social workers and counselors deliver professional services to their clients through video conferencing or chat.
Providing counselling and therapy is both exciting and challenging for the practitioners. As health care professionals are able to give their clients much more options and convenience when receiving health assistance, there is no denying that online therapy is undeniably advantageous and is here to stay because of some inherent benefits.
Five benefits of online therapy
Here are some of the reasons why people are turning to online therapy:
- It’s much easier to find a therapist – Before, you would normally have to try and get a recommendation from someone you know, or roll the dice on a random therapist in your vicinity who has decent credentials. Now, not only do the best online therapy platforms have thousands of counselors for you to choose from, but they also help match you with the best one for you.
- You can book group treatments – The online platform makes it even easier for couples or family members to take group treatments. The group members can log in during the session time no matter where they are and participate in the couples therapy. Unlike traditional therapy, they need not be in the same location.
- It removes barriers – Many people are afraid of seeking help because of the stigma associated with mental health. However, online therapy allows them to avoid the stigma and get the help needed, within the complete privacy of their home. Moreover, many of the sites in question allow users to remain 100% anonymous.
- You get quality support with fewer resources – Anxiety and depression continue to be a major experience for many, especially students, the convenience of getting therapy via mobile phone apps can indeed offer innovative solutions.
- More anonymity, security and privacy – Every patient looks for total security and privacy when seeking counselling. Due to anonymity, there is lower risk of partiality based on age, sex, race, socio-economic status or ethnicity. Online therapy benefits both counselees and counselors because of a better control of their environment and a relaxed environment.
Based on the above discussion, it can be fairly concluded that online therapy is here to stay. Many psychologists have already adjusted their way of providing care during the ongoing pandemic and will continue to offer telehealth and counseling services virtually.
Online therapy is here to stay
Online therapy provides a unique opportunity for people who are too busy to seek traditional therapy because of different reasons. They could be stay-at-home mothers or seniors or overworked students or some who are not too comfortable about visiting a counselor in his office to get therapy in-person. Online therapy gets rid of all those inconveniences and promises an effective therapy right at your home and with the same results.
Although the infrastructure for telehealth has been there since the nineties, the healthcare industry never embraced it fully. It is now that with an event like a pandemic, the health care sector and professionals are exploring telehealth technology to the full and encouraging wide-scale adoption. The telehealth’s growth indicates that both providers and patients view online therapies favorably.
A meta-analytic study to compare the results of virtual health care delivery to in-person delivery finds that both produced similar outcomes. The existing literature on telepsychology sends a positive message about the impact of virtual delivery.
As online therapy is here to stay, it is essential for the healthcare industry to adapt the new technologies and improve access to care and ensure quality, security, and privacy online. It is essential to improve the telehealth infrastructure so that all patients can have easy access to the internet and online therapy.
How to address the security risks
Psychologists and health care providers must establish partnerships with local community organizations to offer safe and private spaces for clients to attend sessions online. Psychologists need to be aware of the general risks pertaining to privacy and security of the patients.
Online counselors must be aware of the privacy and security risks as well as what kind of platforms to choose from. Psychologists must ensure that the online platforms are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and adhere to the Security Rule and Privacy Rule. Next, they must get informed consent through a clear consent form to strengthen the security for the success of virtual interventions or assessments.
Patients must be informed about the efforts made to secure their privacy with the help of encryption, firewalls, and anti-malware software. There should be clear policies and procedures about the storage, transfer, and disposal of patient data to minimize the risks of the virtual environment.
Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, or PSYPACT has been recently developed to push the trajectory of telepsychology forward. Many states have already enacted PSYPACT legislation which is a fast-growing interstate licensing compact that allows psychologists to practice remotely across state lines. Psychologists must get an authority to practice interjurisdictional telepsychology from the PSYPACT Commission.
Confidence in the quality of online therapy has risen
The COVID-19 pandemic has not only prompted tele-psychology and online therapies, but also increased confidence in the quality, security and safety of the online services. In the coming years one can expect a contented growth in online therapy and virtual mental health care. Being able to access health care from anywhere and anytime sounds like an exciting time in the profession of psychology.
Studies have revealed that people taking online therapy found about 50% decrease in their anxiety and depressive symptoms a few months. Majority of them have reported that they find online counseling much more affordable and convenient than regular traditional therapy. These statistics are enough to prove that online therapy is a feasible alternative to traditional counseling and is here to stay.
There is no denying that online therapy is changing the way healthcare professionals and the patients look at counseling. Online counseling may not replace traditional face-to-face counseling and mental health issues entirely. However, it can certainly deliver competent and qualified care to meet the unmet mental health care needs of millions of people right from the comfort of their homes.
As it is a lot more convenient, cheaper and easier than traditional counseling, it is no surprise to see an increasing number of patients shifting towards it and developing a strong preference for online counseling.