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Working Online

Here is an article that begins to talk about the effectiveness of online working:

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For people seeking guidance or suffering from mental health problems, the ability to reach out to a professional online is a major boon. As technology has evolved, therapists have made online counselling services a much larger part of their offering.
In these troubling times, the importance of online therapy has become more apparent than ever. With the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak forcing many people to stay indoors, it might seem like there’s nowhere to turn for help in times of distress. What’s more, studies have shown that staying indoors can amplify the negative effects of mental health disorders, particularly if those affected are trapped in a toxic environment.
Online therapy can help you if family and friends aren’t close to hand or if you need professional help when face-to-face options aren’t possible. Speaking to someone via a phone call or online – for example, through a video conferencing platform or smartphone app - can help you explore your feelings and make positive steps without having to leave your comfort zone.

Below are five reasons why now more than ever would be a good time to give online therapy a go.

  • It’s more accessible
  • One of the best things about online therapy is how accessible it is. As long as you have a stable internet connection, you can contact someone no matter where you are. Often online therapists can have greater flexibility on appointments, and you’ll be able to book appointments at a time that suits your schedule.
  • This is helpful during periods of nationwide quarantine, but there may also be a number of obstacles preventing you from attending therapy sessions in person. For example, you may suffer from a disability that prevents you from leaving the house or live in rural or remote areas where there is a lack of face-to-face counselling services available.
  • Alternatively, you might suffer from social phobia (e.g. agoraphobia) or be in an unstable or dangerous family situation that might make it harder to venture out.
  • It’s proven to be effective

There is evidence that online therapy can be as effective - if not more effective in some cases – than face-to-face therapy. A study published in 2018 declared that computer therapy for anxiety and depression disorders is ‘effective, acceptable and practical health care’.

Another study published in 2018 found that face-to-face cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and internet-delivered CBT (iCBT) were equally effective, and that iCBT has ‘high rates of satisfaction and acceptability’. It also found that on average across cases tested, face-to-face therapy required 7.8 times as much of the therapist’s time compared to iCBT.

The implication is that both online and physical therapy can offer good results and - depending on your preference and circumstances - may be the right option for you. It’s important to note that in some cases – i.e. if you are in a position where you may hurt yourself or others – face-to-face contact might be a better option.

The tech is there to support online therapy

The advent of technology has meant there is now an abundance of ways to talk to people. Free video conferencing platforms such as Skype and Zoom are good for one-to-one conversations, although there are also platforms that are more bespoke for therapists and allow them to schedule appointments and manage payments more effectively.

Smartphones have also facilitated faster and easier access to therapy on the go. Online therapy app Talkspace recently announced it had seen a large uptick in demand since February, largely as a result of a growing number of people self-isolating.

Though it’s important to note that an overdependence/overconsumption of social media can sometimes exacerbate mental health issues, improved connectivity allows people to access a wider variety of therapy to suit their own needs.

Bypassing the social stigma

You might be uncomfortable with the idea of therapy because of how you might be perceived by peers, family members, or even others in the waiting room. Bringing the experience online limits interaction and allows you to get straight to the person you need to talk to, without having to worry about others.

Because online therapy can be carried out alone, without some of the usual social interactions that might otherwise be involved (e.g. getting someone to drive you to an appointment, for example), it can help foster a feeling of independence, as well as help you open up more about certain topics.

Privacy and anonymity

In addition to lifting the stigma, communicating via methods that don’t require face-to-face contact (i.e. a telephone call, or a Skype meeting with video turned off) could help unconscious or consciously held biases about various facets of a person – such as race or gender – from affecting the conversation or your therapist’s diagnosis.

Online therapy can feel like a more private affair, making the whole process less intense and formal-feeling than a one-to-one meeting, and allow people to dip their toe into the water. It might help you feel that you can give a more comprehensive picture of yourself when speaking from the comfort of your own home.

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