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Online Psychotherapy. Gain or risk of a virtualized world?

We are doing everything online – on our tablets, smartphones or on our laptops. We work and live online: checking weather forecasts, doing google researches (about nearly everything) and reading the news. We keep in touch with our friends all over the world via skype, whatsapp and facebook.

But, doing online therapy/counseling? Does that work?

It feels dodgy not to see a psychotherapist in person and difficult to build a warm and respectful therapeutic relationship. And still: online counselling is becoming increasingly more popular. Maybe because it so easy to access: It is flexible in time, location-independent and completely anonymous. In addition, a growing number of studies suggest that the so-called telepsychology (psychological services through technical media) can be as effective as in-person treatments. Quite recently, the University of Leipzig in cooperation with the University of Zurich even came to the conclusion that online therapy may be more effective than in-person therapy for patients with depression. The 62 clients were randomly assigned to one therapeutic intervention and treated for weeks. After this time period the 32 online-clients reported significantly less symptoms than the face-to-face clients. They felt that the therapeutic relationship was very personal (despite being virtual) and often re-read previous correspondence with their therapist. Now this is encouraging news!

Certainly, one risk of online therapy is that it is hard to proof the quality of your psychotherapist. Remedial action number 1: check the qualifications and the background of your psychotherapist. A good website offers information about legal details (address, tax number, phone number, etc) and your psychotherapist should be member in some kind of renowned official organization. In Germany, the seal of quality from the professional association of German psychologists can be a good indicator for the quality of online counselling.

In sum, online psychotherapy might be a real gain in our virtualized world, as long as the right quality standards are met.

Do get in touch, if you are interested in online therapy or online counseling!

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