What are the biases about online therapy and what does research say about it? What Stops People From Going To An Online Psychologist? What are the 3 most frequent prejudices that an online psychologist has to face in his clinical practice?
Online therapy is a frontier to be discovered.
Many people approach it out of mere curiosity or a spirit of initiative, wanting to experiment with an alternative way of doing therapy that goes beyond the collective conviction that a psychologist only works in his or her office.
The 3 misconceptions about online therapy
1: “The psychologist can only help me in his study”
Often the belief is that a psychologist can help only if he receives him in his study. A December 2012 study that compared the results of all the researches that have dealt with evaluating the effectiveness of online psychological counseling has sown that online therapy, conducted rigorously and according to the directives of an experienced therapist, it can be extremely effective not only in cases of depression and anxiety disorders but also in the treatment of gambling addictions, social phobia, and in the treatment of some sexual dysfunctions.
In case of PTSD, exposure therapy might be the best way to approach it. Read more on BetterHelp.com.
Online therapy is considered, like a therapeutic path carried out in the office of a psychotherapist, a path of personal growth in all respects to get to know each other better. The work on relationships, personal resources, cognitive and / or behavioral strategies and the systemic reinterpretation of personal distress are a way to restore new meanings to the person and to the distress and to experiment with new personal strategies in order to remove psychological blocks.
2: “It’s impossible to recreate a therapeutic alliance with an online approach in the relationship between therapist and patient”
The therapeutic alliance is defined as a relationship between therapist and patient based on emotional tuning that is useful for the treatment and work on achieving therapeutic goals. The therapeutic alliance consists of three components:
- the explicit sharing of objectives by the patient and therapist;
- the clear definition of reciprocal tasks at the beginning of the treatment;
- the type of emotional bond that is formed between the two, characterized by trust and respect. This relationship between patient and therapist is the main criterion for the success of a therapeutic intervention.
Several empirical studies have confirmed the potential of online services in increasing accessibility to psychological assistance. They could also be used by people with limited mobility, time restrictions of various kinds, such as those who live in places that are difficult to reach, more isolated or in which there is a limited choice of services, those who have limited hourly availability for work or who are forced to traveling and relocating to countries where they will not consult a mental health professional due to language barriers, those with disabilities and their carers (caregivers).
Furthermore, there are those who are afraid of being stigmatized for turning to certain services and who could overcome the shame in asking for an online consultation. Another target of patients who can easily be hooked by e-health online services are adolescents who isolate themselves and no longer want to go to school. As we can see, there are several categories that the online therapy service can address.
3: “Is an online psychologist able to listen to me or understand how I feel if I don’t know him personally?”
There seems to be a belief that if I don’t know a psychologist or shake his hand in person, that relationship of trust and respect that is so important for the success of a therapeutic process cannot be established. In reality, the online psychologist is a professional who must adapt his theoretical-cognitive tools to the technological medium and does so managing to recreate that climate of trust, listening and understanding.
As the empirical studies state, guided intervention seems to be the method of choice for establishing a good therapeutic alliance capable of making an online therapeutic intervention effective by equating a therapeutic intervention carried out in a professional’s office. In fact, guided treatments have been found to significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety as opposed to unguided ones.