Distance Therapy – The (not so) New Norm
Posted on 19th April 2020 at 09:21
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of overcoming of it.” Hellen Keller
Life has always presented us with challenges on personal and global level. When tragedy strikes, people are affected by it directly or indirectly. However, when traumatic event had arisen in the past it was confined to a particular area, country or region. The present Pandemic reality has challenged us on a global level bringing the world together in unity and cooperation never seen before. Life, the way we knew it, our previous issues and differences have been put into perspective.
As a therapist, I have always been an advocate for in-person therapy as the relationship between client and therapist resides in the delicate rapport vitally important for the success of the therapeutic process. Now, under quarantine, the technology has given us the opportunity to be there for our clients and to help and assist them through using the (not so) new means of providing distance therapy, online therapy and virtual space.
Studies conducted on the effectiveness of online therapy and in particular CBT and Integrative therapy have been conclusive on the high level of progress and success achieved by clients suffering from depression, stress and anxiety disorders. One of the main points was that the level of success depends on the consistency and continuity of the online sessions and seeing the treatment through to the desired outcome. It appears that the communication through a screen can be equally efficient in eliciting the positive results. As the old saying goes: “All roads lead to Rome!”
Hypnotherapy does not differ from any other therapy in the necessary conditions that need to be met to elicit the positive change. If anything, it is one of the most successful and preferred therapies out there due to the elements of relaxation, creativity and low-intrusion strategies that are part of the treatment. In fact, hypnosis is used not only for treating mental health conditions but as a preventive and enhancing tool to increase performance and well-being in otherwise healthy individuals.
Providing therapy online will be different but that does not meant it is less effective. We, as species, are changing in the way we communicate with each other. The Pandemic imposed quarantine has put an emphasis on something that we have already been doing – connecting and communicating in the virtual space. In this testing times there is the question would the changes in the way we provide therapy are going to be permanent or become predominant? We are still to see.
Distant therapy access can be provided through different means such as:
• Telephone appointments – great for mental health emergencies and short term therapy.
• Email therapy – a useful tool for clients that do not feel yet comfortable with technology or for clients inclined to express themselves easily through writing.
• Online therapy – sessions conducted via Skype and Zoom provide visual and audio connection and they are a great equivalent to in-person therapy.
• Group online sessions – Zoom provides the opportunity to conduct multiple – screen sessions and involve more people in the therapy process.
• Online seminars, workshops and virtual masterminds where a specific mental health issue is explored and common strategies can be introduced for the benefit of the participants.
• Facebook groups – usually the therapist will create a Private group on FB and invite people or clients to join in the discussions, ides and treatment strategies, share success stories and help each other.
Distance therapy has its’ own advantages:
• Variety and Choice - Clients have access to wider range of therapies and can choose their own therapist no matter of where they live.
• Affordability – Many therapist will have discounted fees for providing distant or online therapy.
• Time efficiency and reduced pressure – Cutting down on travel time and having to ‘fit in’ the therapy appointment in a busy schedule.
• Convenience - The sessions are conducted while the client is in the comfort of their own home or office.
It is needless to say that the Professional Ethics of Practice, Adequate Insurance, Client’s Confidentiality and Client’s Safety are of paramount and must adhere to when providing online and distant therapy as we would do for when providing in-person therapy. It is also vital that the three most important ingredients for successful therapy remain a constant – the therapist’s commitment, non-judgmental environment and positive regard.
Resilience is the very ability to adapt, survive and thrive. Distance Therapy and in particular, online therapy are here to stay. The studies done up to date on the effectiveness of online therapy showed positive outcome and recovery from mental health conditions that were sustainable even after the therapeutic intervention has been terminated. It depends on us to use it safely, study the results and make it even more effective in treating mental health issues, practice mental health prophylactic and enhance human potential and performance.
• ‘Effectiveness of online mindfulness-based interventions in improving mental health. A review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trails.’ M.P.J. Spijkerman, W.T.M. Post, E.T. Bohlmeijer, Center for eHealth and Well-being Research, Department of Psychology, Health and Technology, University of Twente, Enchede, The Netherlands.
• ‘The Effectiveness of Online Cognitive Behavioural Treatment in Routine Clinical Practice’ Alfred Lang, Bart Schrieken, Conor V. Dolan, Paul Emmelkamp, 1. Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 2. Intherapy PLC, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 3. Department of Psychological Method, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
Tagged as: Therapy
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