Online Therapy Defined
Online counseling is a relatively new sensation, given the prevalence of Internet culture. However, if you actually examine the history of therapy, you will find that its pre-Internet model started in the 1980s. The first official service for online use was before the modern Internet and was called “Ask Uncle Ezra” in 1986. The project, launched by Cornell University, was an online advice column made for students studying the subject. By the mid-1990s, a few services popped up offering mental health advice, particularly people who were struggling with suicidal thoughts.
This type of e-therapy has evolved over the years, not merely offering text advice but also through exploring multimedia technology such as live video conferencing, online chat, messaging and photos, and Internet phone.
According to some studies, the number of patients helped by online therapy, as defined, was comparable to patients of traditional in-person therapy. The study saw specifically inpatient psychiatric patients who responded well to video conferencing therapy for a period of at least six months. The study showed favorable results, both in reporting a decrease of in-person psychiatric admissions, as well as a decrease in the total days of hospitalization. The World Journal of Psychiatry also reported exciting results of video conferencing therapy.
What Are the Benefits of Online Therapy?
Many traditional therapists may prefer the in-office scenario, and while results are very comparable, there are many benefits for the patient when it comes to the online option. For example, patients attend more online sessions than in-person, since there is no pressure or long commuting time. Patients feel more at ease and thus willing to open up to a therapist and share relevant personal information.
Travel time is always an issue in traditional office therapy which is why online counseling is the choice of patients who are located in rural locations, or other areas not near the city. The fact these patients can choose their therapist rather than accepting whatever is available is also a major advantage.
The flexibility of schedule is a relief for patients who have difficult work hours or may have insomnia and need to talk to someone later in the evening or night hours. Lastly, disabled patients who have a difficult time traveling can get the help they need without having to make driving arrangements.
What is an Online Counselor Qualified to Do?
An online counselor is only qualified to deliver expertise in the subject of their specialty, such as general counseling, depression, bipolar, and so on. Some counselors do specialize in a subject while others offer assistance with depression, anxiety, and other common problems.
For more advanced conditions, such as suicidal ideation or psychosis of some kind, traditional in-person therapy by a doctor is typically recommended, as this is usually beyond the training of an online counselor.
However, the idea that the online counselor is just a glorified life coach is wrong because all online counselors are educated, experienced, licensed, and oftentimes certified. This demonstrates their knowledge of the field and their ability to help their patients. Furthermore, they are provided training based on the principles of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), which is a recognized and accepted form of treatment proven to work in studies. Many patients preferred the CBT approach because they either did not respond to medication or did not want medication. It was proven to be most effective in patients with mild to moderate unipolar depression.
For severe depression, CBT combined with antidepressant treatment is often recommended. While online counselors cannot prescribe medicine, they can help with communicating with the patient and discussing issues related to bipolar, depression, life problems, career problems, or other sources of stress.
The www.MyTherapist.com website offers online counseling with a number of technologies and a wide selection of therapists, each trained and qualified to dispense advice. Keep visiting to learn more about video conferencing, online text chat or phone discussion.