Imagine Health

Online and Video Therapy

In line with the recent Government advice regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the people of Ireland have been asked to restrict their movements to help stop the spread of the virus. In such extraordinary circumstances, it is important to look at the possible consequences that these measures may have on mental health and what support we can continue to provide.

A recent review which looked at the available evidence on mental health outcomes of quarantine and isolation for preventing infectious diseases, observed several psychological conditions. These included mood disorders, fear, guilt, loneliness, feeling a lack of control, insomnia, posttraumatic stress disorders, perceived dirtiness, vigilant handwashing, and avoiding crowns and social gatherings even after quarantine or isolation (Hossain, Sultana, & Purohit, 2020).

Now more than ever, it is important that psychologists can provide continuity in their therapeutic services. With the growing use and affordability of technology many therapists are using online technology to facilitate this support. The use of online therapy, in the delivery of psychological services, is still a relatively new concept and requires its own set of ethical and professional standards of care and practice.

Advantages/Disadvantages of online therapy

There are some benefits to online and/or video therapy. Some clients may find that they are less inhibited in their online interactions where online therapy may lead to the expression of previously unexplored thoughts and feelings. Online therapy is also advantageous for people living in remote locations with limited facilities. Disadvantages have also been highlighted however, where some feel that there is the potential for non-verbal cues to go unnoticed in the use of online therapy. These circumstances which we are currently living through will likely shed further light on these discussions and impact the future of online therapy.

Tips for successful online therapy

If you are about to commence therapy online as a client, or therapist, these simple tips may help facilitate a successful therapeutic process.

  • Build into your scheduled appointment 5 minutes to set the call up. Use this time to test that your audio and video are fully operational before your session. Ensure that the device which you will use is fully charged. It might also help to agree an alternative procedure in advance, should technology fail mid-session, e.g. phone call.
  • Ensure sessions are held in a private setting where there is no risk of being overheard. Wearing headphones can help to make the conversation more confidential and improve sound quality. Headphones also help you stay free from any auditory distractions.
  • Ensure you attend fully. Mute or close all other apps or files on the device which you are using to attend your session. It is harder to stay focused and present if notifications pop up on your screen – it’s only natural to read them!
  • If you are someone who found that the journey to and from your face-to-face sessions helped you prepare, and then come down from you session try to work in a detaching ritual before and/or after your session, e.g. have a shower, eat a snack, watch a short television program. Bring it up in session with you therapist if you feel you need further help with this.
  • If you feel online therapy an uncomfortable medium, discuss it with your therapist. You are of course free to end the session at any time. However before doing so, it might be beneficial to discuss other options.

Written by,

Helen Tormey

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