Sessions with an online psychologist are an alternative to meetings in a specialist’s office. It is designed mainly for people who do not want to attend a private face-to-face meeting because of their condition. These are often clients who struggle with depression, anxiety or antisocial disorders. With sessions held via videoconference, they can discuss their problems with a psychologist without leaving the comfort of a place where they feel safe.
It is also an ideal method of conducting sessions for people who live far away from the specialist of their choice or have problems with mobility (for example, they need to use a wheelchair or suffer from autoimmune diseases). It is a very convenient option for these patients, as it allows them to feel at ease, which will have a positive impact on the outcome of the therapy conducted by the psychologist.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that online sessions with a psychologist are NOT for people who are in life-threatening or health-threatening situations, including those displaying uncontrolled behavior or suicidal thoughts. In this case, you should immediately contact the nearest medical facility or institutions or individuals who help in such cases and restore stability to people who may pose a threat to themselves or, in extreme cases, to third parties.
To make an appointment to speak with a specialist, you will need an electronic device with software that supports popular programs used to communicate over the Internet. Although it may be a new generation phone, the best effect will be obtained when using a desktop or laptop computer. It is also advisable to connect a dedicated microphone and headphones in order to get the best outgoing and incoming audio quality, which will greatly facilitate the communication process. The laptop’s built-in camera and speaker can also be used, although it is not advisable.
If a laptop or desktop computer with all the necessary accessories has been prepared, it is necessary to download an appropriate program that will allow for seamless communication between the psychotherapist and the client. The most popular choices for many people are Skype, Zoom, or Google Meet which are all free programs that allow for audio and video conversations. There are, of course, alternatives, and it is possible to determine which program will be used during the first contact with the client.
The most important thing, however, is a fast Internet connection. If your connection speed does not exceed 1 Mbps (uploading and downloading), the course of therapy may be impossible because the conversation will be constantly interrupted, which is unacceptable during a meeting with a psychologist.
When making an appointment with a psychologist, more and more people decide to use the long-distance option, either by talking on the phone or videoconferences. This of course does not mean that face-to-face office visits do not have their adherents, but the availability of more options thanks to technological advances has allowed for tremendous flexibility when it comes to the availability of sessions. So why is it that online therapy is growing in popularity?
The benefits of choosing online therapy are similar to those in other industries. First of all, it is a great convenience for the client – from the comfort of an armchair we are able to connect with a specialist, while maintaining discretion and privacy, which is on par with that guaranteed when visiting the office. We are not forced to stand in traffic jams or, in the autumn and winter period, to walk or ride a bike in the rain or snow.
It also saves money. The cost of car fuel or hiring a babysitter do not apply when you choose online therapy. You also gain time that you would have spent on transportation to your destination in the alternative situation.
Another argument for choosing remote sessions is the need for some people to maintain maximum discretion. Some clients want their meetings with the therapist to remain a secret. This can be influenced by many factors, including the desire to be seen and treated consistently by family and friends. Whatever the reasons for increasingly choosing this form of psychotherapy, it is at least as effective as its conventional alternative.
Individuals who wish to work with a psychologist to improve their daily lives face many choices. Both in terms of the specialist and the form of therapy, the number of options available may seem overwhelming at first, especially considering the fact that thanks to modern technology we have many conveniences that can also be used during psychotherapy. Thanks to this, we have the choice between a face-to-face meeting with a specialist, a telephone conversation, or even the use of computer communication programs. Does choosing a long-distance connection make the sessions less effective, or on the contrary?
In 2013, a study was conducted in Switzerland to answer the question of whether the effectiveness of long-distance psychotherapy differs from using a conventional method. Sixty-two participants struggling with depression in the experiment were divided into two groups. The first group received online therapy, while the second group was assigned traditional appointments with a specialist. After a month of regular appointments, 53% of those who did not receive in-office therapy reported an improvement in their ability to cope with their condition. Among those who visited the psychologist in person, 50% made progress.
It is also worth noting that in both the first and second group, the percentage of people who described the contact with the therapist as “personal” was over 90. The very similar results of both groups can be regarded as evidence that talking to a psychologist in the office, as well as over the phone or computer, is an effective form of therapy, and that the intimacy and privacy of the meeting is maintained with all available options of communication.
This theory also seems to be supported by the results of a study conducted in Canada in 2007. As in the experiment mentioned above, there was little difference between the satisfaction levels of those taking part, with the only significant inequality being the lower cost of online meetings.