Forget The Couch: Therapy Goes Virtual
If in-person therapy isn’t possible or practical, online treatment may be just as successful, new research finds.
A study published in the British journal The Lancet this month looked at people with depression who received online cognitive behavioral therapy alongside medical treatment versus those who were on waiting lists for in-person therapy. Those receiving online treatment had as many as 10 sessions lasting nearly an hour each.
Of those participating in the online therapy — which utilized real-time instant messenger-like chats — 38 percent recovered within four months. That’s comparable to results for in-person therapy, doctors say.
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Meanwhile, of those on the waiting list, just 24 percent recovered.
While promising, especially for those without access to traditional therapy, online care presents pros and cons, experts say. Writing about a problem can be therapeutic for patients and can allow people to be more open than they might if they’re talking with someone, but therapists risk missing visual cues.
What’s more, therapists must be licensed in the state of the patient they are treating. And, there are concerns about the liability a therapist might take on in treating a patient they’ve never actually met, so many therapists are only willing to treat patients online who they have consulted with on an in-person basis first.
While The Lancet study looked specifically at text-based online therapy, video conferencing is evolving and will likely be a staple of mental health care in the future, experts say. But first, the technology must be perfected to ensure no breaks in sessions and absolute privacy, reports CNN. To read more click here.