Online psychotherapy, Why yes and why not?

Some years ago, I stared working as a psychotherapist. The first time I got into this wonderful world was trough online psychotherapy, I had not my own space to work and I had listened people were more interested in this kind of process, which is why I tried to work with the help of technology. Since I moved, I am still working with my patients back home and I can see the utility of technology in psychotherapy.

It is true that not all kind of psychotherapies are for everyone, maybe there are some people who feel more comfortable working with one way than another and at the same time there are others who prefer to move to the practice and to have the whole experience of it: take a seat, recognise the smell, the light and all the sensations that can appear in front of the therapist. On the other side, there are those who enjoy more having their therapy in their own home or by phone call.

Based in my experience, I had identified some advantages and disadvantages to give online psychotherapy. Today, I want to share these so that you can have a better and clearer idea of what it means to have therapy online, since people have asked me if it works at all. I will leave it to your own opinion, hoping to read some comments on the subject.

Why yes?

Online psychotherapy is easy to access, it needs only internet and a computer, a phone or a tablet.

It is possible to take it in almost any place, from the comfort of your own home, or at some free hour during the day. Many people feel more comfortable talking about themselves in a familiar place; also in big and populated cities, it can be easier to go online than taking the time to commute to where the therapy takes place.

People who live away from their country and live where their own language is not spoken find it convenient to have online therapy with someone from their own nationality, since they can express better and easier their emotions and experiences in their mother tongue.

People who have already a therapeutic process but they or their psychotherapist move to another place, they use online psychotherapy to continue working with their psychotherapist. Generally, this happens when they have been working together for some time or the relationship between them is very strong and changing could potentially influence the therapeutic process.

Finally, those with a physical limitation that complicates them from commuting to the practice can also have online therapy, with easy access and in a more comfortable way.

Accompaniment and closeness are two important aspects to think about when considering the advantages of having online psychotherapy. Even when there are kilometres between them, the patient can always feel close to the psychotherapist, thanks to technology.

Why not?

The main disadvantage that I have identified is concerning technical problems such as internet or computer failure, low battery, updates, loss of signal or sound interferences, all of which can twist or distort the message and make it not understandable.

The place where the session happens is very important, sometimes it is small or open to other people, and when it is the case, the patient cannot express himself freely, since sometimes he could pay more attention to people around him and not being overheard. For this reason, it is very important that the patience knows the basic conditions of having online psychotherapy, which include the certainty of having a proper space for the sessions.

Closely related to the previous point, while being accessible and easy to be in a familiar space, this can also compromise the patient’s commitment, because he can get distracted by an external factor such as a noise in the house or a phone call, as well as delay for the sessions, just to mention a few examples. To avoid misunderstandings, it is very important that before starting the session, the rules of commitment are well defined from both parts: the therapist and the patient. In this way, they will both know their responsibility during the therapeutic process.

In general, online therapy is a very useful tool to people that are comfortable using technology and that because of their own particular situations, it is easier to have it. Even though online therapy does no substitute presence therapy, because the latter has a certain richness while working with it, it can definitely be a great alternative to work with emotions in an easy an accessible manner. Whether online or in presence, psychotherapy will depend on the commitment and disposition of both the patient and the therapist, because psychotherapy is more than nothing a team effort.

After reading this article, what do you think of online therapy? Here at the Brighton Wellness Centre we have online and presence therapy options. If you are interested, you can send us a message to receive more information.

See you next week!

Citlalli Degollado is Gestalt Psychotherapist. She works with adults and couples. Currently she lives in Brighton, and she is a psychotherapist to Spanish people.

Citlalli Degollado es Psicoterapeuta Gestalt. Trabaja con adultos y parejas. Actualmente vive en Brighton y brinda terapia a hispanohablantes.

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