Does online therapy work for mental health?

Yes, online therapy, especially connecting to a therapist via videoconference or even telephone, can be appropriate and effective in many cases.

“Therapy is about the relationship you have with your psychologist,” says Lynn Bufka, PhD, licensed clinical psychologist and associate chief of practice transformation at the American Psychological Association (APA), where she works on policy issues. health and improving mental health. the delivery of health care.

Many clinicians consider this one-on-one relationship essential for good therapy, and something that develops over time as a client continues to work with a provider, she says. “Usually it happens in real time, whether it’s in an office [in person] or via telehealth.

A meta-analysis of 57 studies involving more than 4,300 clients comparing in-person therapy for mental health with videoconferencing sessions found that both modes were equally helpful to patients.

Lead author Ashley Batastini, PhD, assistant professor of counseling, educational psychology, and research at the University of Memphis in Tennessee, notes that her group analyzed research dating back to the late 1990s. The studies included patients treated for a wide range of mental health conditions, such as depression, psychotic disorders, trauma and eating disorders, among other issues. The studies involved patients being treated (virtually and in person) in a variety of settings, such as private care, university clinics, outpatient care centers, prisons, and hospitals.

There is less evidence that therapy delivered through asynchronous communication (such as text messages or emails) is as effective as talk therapy delivered in real time between a patient and provider, one-on-one, explains Dr. Maheu. Studies have yet to compare the effectiveness of therapy apps with individual counseling in a way that proves they work equally well.

But the further you stray from traditional talk therapy delivered one-on-one in real time with a therapist (either in an office or virtually), the more careful you need to be, Maheu says.

Apps with chat and text-based therapy, for example, shouldn’t replace traditional therapy with one-on-one conversation, she says. Mental health care providers detect your facial expressions, tone of voice, hesitations and pauses in conversation when talking to you one-on-one (even more so in person when you don’t have to worry videoconferencing delays and other limitations). They can’t do it over chat or email.

“In person, it’s the gold standard. The second best is in front of the camera. The third best is to hear your voice. These are the pillars,” says Maheu.

Bufka says there’s room for apps to improve your mental health, but they shouldn’t be used on their own.

“These tools can be a great addition to incorporate into your care and move therapy forward faster,” she says.

Appropriate uses of therapy apps and other online mental health tools that do not offer real-time individual therapy options include day-to-day symptom tracking, worksheets assigned by your therapist, or reminders of advice to improve their mental health. , from sleep hygiene to yoga, meditation or breathing exercises, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

Source link

Comments are closed.