A pew research center survey has revealed that about one-third of Americans are experiencing a high level of psychological distress since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. But thanks to the internet, psychologists can continue to help the people in need. 

The concept of telemental health is not new to the world. The history of online therapy goes back to 1986. Websites and apps like Talkspace, Betterhelp, and 7 cups of tea have been offering online therapy for over a decade now. Yet most people are skeptical about trying online therapy. Is it really worth it?

So, the Voice of Local Business collected information from various sources to find the answer to this question. 

Is online therapy effective?

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorder says that “Computer therapy for the anxiety and depression disorders is effective, acceptable and practical health care.”

What do Psychologists say about telemental health?

Therapists are having mixed feelings about the effectiveness of online therapy. “Online therapy opens doors for clients who would not otherwise seek help, particularly patients who feel stigmatized by therapy or intimidated by a stranger sitting across the room from them,” says Nick Joyce, Psychologist & counselor at the University of South Florida. 

“Now, COVID-19 is forcing most traditional psychotherapists to adapt their practice to online counseling. After experiencing the medium, they are overcoming their prejudices,” he further adds. Nick believes that many will convert some or all of their caseloads to telehealth once this pandemic ends. 

Melissa Stringer has been conducting therapy exclusively online for the past two and a half years. When she first started online therapy, she didn’t know what to expect. Her fears soon disappeared. 

“If anything, I find that both myself and the individuals I work with probably project more authentic versions of ourselves from the comfort of our own homes. The thing I place the most emphasis on—the integrity of the therapeutic relationship—is not diluted in any way because we are connecting through a screen. In fact, people often tell me that their online experience has been more satisfying than their previous in-person therapy,” she says.

But, do all therapists feel the same way? The simple answer is no. Chris Donaghue, a psychotherapist who works with individuals and couples, says it is far more difficult to connect from a distance via technology. He has felt changes in his work since he made the switch to telehealth. “I miss the face-to-face work because it allows for me to track microexpressions, postures, and the methods of attachment that allow me to do deeper relational work,” said during his interview with the American Psychological Association. 

Bottom line:

Just like any other practice, Telemental health has its own pros and cons. At the end of the day, it all comes down to the individual and the therapist. Sometimes it takes a little time for the individual to open up during an online session, while others feel comfortable sharing their problems from the comfort of their own room.

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