During the Covid-19 emergency most of the psychotherapy activities, instead of being interrupted, managed to continue remotely thanks to the tools that give the opportunity to talk and see each other.
Of course, the norm is to carry out face-to-face sessions, but rather than interrupting psychotherapy for an indefinite time it is preferable to adapt and use the possibilities offered by technology.
Online therapy has not been improvised as a consequence of what happened, but has been the subject of study and specific guidelines for years. In remote services, the same obligations necessary for traditional services apply, such as consent to psychological treatment, consent to the processing of personal data, consent of both parents to be able to perform services to minors, compliance with the Code of Ethics, etc…
Healthy habits and rules to follow in online therapy
Online therapy is supported by specific theoretical models, and it’s important that the tools used, the duration and frequency of therapy, the place where the therapies take place, the personality of the patient and the therapist all follow specific patterns.
Here are some practical guidelines:
1) define an environment in the house that is always the same for the sessions and that can guarantee privacy and tranquility;
2) evaluate the position in the house where the connection is more stable;
3) as you would do in a face-to-face session, before the online session it is desirable to take some time to gather ideas and find the right concentration;
4) create a routine before starting an online session (eg choose to clothes, drink a coffee, etc.);
5) take a few minutes of reflection after the end of the online session.
Advice, support, psychotherapy, what a mess!
Even with remote services we must take into account the differences between psychological counseling, psychological support and psychotherapy.
Psychological counseling is a professional opinion that the psychologist provides to those who come to him for a specific problem or a moment of crisis. It ends in a few non-therapeutic encounters.
Psychological support is generally a longer path than counseling, in which the psychologist supports the person by acting on her strengths to achieve or recover a state of well-being.
Psychotherapy, on the other hand, is the actual treatment of a disorder and / or a path that aims at personal growth and psychological well-being that requires more time and more in-depth work.
What are the advantages of online counseling / psychotherapy?
– It allows you to overcome obstacles of presence in the studio and the digital connection is increasingly usable. This guarantees assistance to people with limited mobility (due to disabilities for example) and is a safe and accessible tool in emergency situations.
– it is less economically demanding as the time and costs of travel are reduced;
– It is useful as a first step to identify the most suitable intervention and allows to improve the integration of different services or to act as a bridge in critical waiting periods before the start of treatment;
What are the limitations and disadvantages of online psychotherapy?
However, the remote mode also has limits, aspects that must inevitably be taken into consideration when choosing.
– Incompatible with some forms of discomfort: online therapy is not suitable for all patients and all problems. It is not recommended for serious pathologies (eg psychosis) or in case of suicidal ideation. In some disorders eg. social anxiety the digital medium could become a means of avoidance that reinforces the disorder.
– Therapeutic alliance. The “virtual” meeting limits the possibility of promoting an adequate therapeutic relationship and the effectiveness of the therapy itself; elements such as physical encounters, confrontation, interaction, temple management can hardly be offered by online therapy.
– Greater risk of encountering therapists without adequate qualifications, preparation and competence.
If you’re looking to try online therapy services to see if it’s right for you, BetterHelp provides therapy sessions from licensed counselors.
But is online psychotherapy effective?
Distance psychotherapy and online psychological counseling are not new, they are widely known internationally, and the effectiveness has been confirmed by several studies, making it a valid alternative to that in person and that the two are comparable both in terms of patient satisfaction and in the long-term effects.
Change, resilience, future opportunities of online psychotherapy
Initially, online counseling or psychotherapy may seem strange, but like many things it is just a matter of getting used to a new tool.
In a changing World we must create new habits to take care of work, family, school, well-being.
Every change, however tiring and difficult, is necessary for some moments and leads us to develop resilience, the ability to adapt, to be flexible and to transform.