What is Online Therapy and how is it done?
Online therapy, also known as 'e-therapy' or home-based telemental health, is the delivery of therapy services directly to a person’s home via a range of telecommunication technologies. This can include assessment, completion of questionnaires, sharing of information, and counselling. The therapist and client can interact through a variety of means – internet ‘real time’ or synchonised chat (such as Skype or FaceTime), email, over the phone, or through online forums.
What sort of Online Therapy is offered at Dr Emily?
We provide Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), which is the gold standard for treating anxiety disorders. Currently, the majority of our online therapy is conducted via Skype. Our online CBT programs for anxiety disorders use the same treatment as our traditional face to face sessions. Clients participating in online therapy receive a full clinical assessment, and meet for weekly or fortnightly scheduled online therapy sessions with our clinicians. Clients can also have the option of coming to our office for treatment if they decide that they would prefer face-to-face therapy at a later time.
Does Online Therapy work?
Online therapy has increased over the years with the growth of the internet and home based telecommunication. It is an emerging area but the evidence suggests it is an effective treatment for anxiety disorders, and clients that use telehealth services find it just as satisfying as in-clinic services. In a recent research article Pruitt and colleagues claimed “evidence is accumulating to suggest that the degree of clinical effectiveness of home based telemental health treatments is comparable with the same treatments delivered in conventional in-office settings” (pg 340).
Who is suitable for Online Therapy?
Online therapy is suitable for almost all clients seeking assistance with managing their anxiety, but may be more desirable for:
- client who has difficulties with accessibility (due to transport or mobility issues)
- clients who are unable to find specialised care near their home
- clients who live in remote areas or work which involves travel that makes regular attendance at the clinic challenging (such as fly in, fly out)
- existing clients with busy schedules
- pregnant women or new moms who find it very difficult to regularly attend therapy
- clients who may not seek treatment, as they find accessing conventional in-clinic care too distressing (at least initially).
What are the advantages of Online Therapy?
- Online therapy can address some of the factors that impact on client attendance, as it is flexible in terms of time, accessibility, and eliminates travel time.
- It increases accessibility of quality health care to those that may not otherwise have this (due to physical restrictions, transport issues, and geographical location).
- It provides opportunities for the therapist to observe the client in their ‘real world’ environment and the client to practice strategies in their home with the assistance of the therapist.
Are there any limitations to Online Therapy?
In addition to the regular limits of confidentiality with traditional therapy, there may be other limitations with e-therapy and the level of security of the technology. More information can be provided on this if you have concerns.
- Misunderstandings may arise due to a lack of non-verbal cues and, with the exception of telephone counselling, tone of voice; email and SMS messages may not be receive within the time frame expected by the client.
- There is a need for a particular level of computer specification, as low quality internet access or inadequate software can interfere with the flow of therapy sessions.
- All telephone and online therapy clients receive and sign an "e-consent form" prior to treatment, which takes into consideration these limitations. This will be discussed with the therapist at the start of your initial appointment.
Who is not suitable for Online Therapy?
Online therapy is not suitable for individuals who are actively suicidal or engage in self harming behaviours. Likewise, clients that have a psychotic or manic illness and/or having been hospitalized in the last month are not suited for online therapy.