Thanks for taking the time to read this guide that I have prepared on the ‘ABCs of Online Therapy & Video Counselling’. I have tried to make it as comprehensive, yet as succinct as possible, so you do not get bogged down into too many details. The ‘Guide’ is arranged by the most common topics of interest about remote therapy. You can choose to read the whole ‘Guide’ or click on the links below to go directly to the section of interest. Within each section, you can also click on the links to go to a blog post that provides more detail if you would like additional information.
Online therapy takes place when a mental health specialist, such as a psychologist or therapist, provides psychological services through the internet via video. Other terms that are used for online therapy are: video counselling, web-based therapy, remote therapy, distance therapy, internet-based therapy, and etherapy.
The video call requires that:
1) You and your health provider have a desktop computer, smart phone or tablet.
2) You have a secure and reliable internet connection.
3) You and your health provider are using the same platform for the video call. Examples are Zoom or Skype.
Another type of distance therapy is by phone. Other terms that are used for this type of therapy are: telehealth, teletherapy or phone-based therapy.
You will find these terms used interchangeably through this ‘Guide’.
Wondering whether etherapy works is one of the first questions I get asked by clients who are interested in this form of therapy. This question makes sense since psychotherapy has traditionally taken place face-to-face in the office of a mental health specialist. Fortunately, with a therapeutic approach like Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) we can now answer this question. CBT, which is scientifically-based compared to most other treatment approaches, tests out the questions we have concerning therapy.
So what does the research have to say? The search is quite conclusive that internet-based therapy is effective. In an early research article in 2009 (Andersson & Cuijpers, 2009 Cogn Behav Ther) that reviewed 12 studies that evaluated remote therapy, the authors concluded that computer or internet-based therapy held promise, although at that point more dated was needed. In 2018 (Andrews et al., 2018 J Anx Dis), a subsequent review of 64 studies came to the same conclusion: that internet-based therapy for “anxiety and depressive disorders is effective, acceptable and practical health care”.
In conclusion, the result are unequivocal that etherapy is effectives. You can click the following link if you would like to learn more about whether online counselling is effective?
If you are considering this type of therapy, the next two questions to ask yourself are: 1) How do I find the right specialist? and 2) What therapeutic approach should I use?
In my opinion, this is an unimportant factor to consider when searching for an online therapy specialist. Remember that you will be working with an individual during therapy. Individuals are not like products.
So although some people may prefer a product like an Apple iphone for their cell phone or a specific brand of jeans, you want to select the best specialist, which is the person that is the ‘best fit’ for you.
Just like a medical clinic which has a group practice of medical doctors, you want the best doctor that fits your needs. The medical clinic itself is less important than the actual doctor you will work with.
If you do look at a psychology clinic, go directly to the profiles of the psychologists and therapists and make sure you select the specialist that appears to match your needs best.
In the following section you will read all the important factors you need to know about finding the best online therapist for yourself.
With the current pandemic related to COVID-19, many psychology clinics and therapists with no experience offering web-based therapy are now in ‘panic mode’ and moving towards offering virtual therapy. To find the best therapist to match your needs, you can use some of the following ‘Guides’ I have written over the years that are available on my website. You can choose to read all of them or the one that applies to you specifically (Note: you will find some common factors between these three guides). These guidelines were developed based on what clients found to be the most important factors in selecting a specialist.
Besides using the factors in the resources above, it is important to select a therapist that has experience in providing online, video or phone therapy. I remember that it took me about 6 months to adjust to providing therapy remotely. Therapy that takes place in-office is different than providing therapy online. There are numerous factors to keep in mind about maintaining a therapeutic relationship that only comes from months of experience. I am glad for my experience with etherapy as I feel it has made me a better psychologist. In these times with COVID-19, an experienced online therapist is essential.
You can click on the following link for a complete guide on choosing the best online therapist or psychologist for you.
The law in Quebec defines psychotherapy as: a psychological treatment for a mental disorder, for behavioral disturbances or for any other problem resulting in suffering or psychological distress which aims to promote in the client significant changes in his cognitive, emotional or behavioral functioning, in his interpersonal system, in his personality or in his state of health (translated from French). Wikipedia states that there are over 1000 approaches and psychotherapeutic techniques. So which approach should you consider?
Although you are free to choose any treatment you want, whether it be medical or psychological, I personally suggest that people seriously consider CBT, as it is researched-based and not an approach were a client simply lies on a couch for ‘talk therapy’.
CBT approaches are more directive. They provide tools and strategies to help better manage emotions. They are more present-focused, practical and short-term in nature. Common CBT approaches are standard-CBT and Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT). Mindfulness skills and Positive Psychology are also two empirically-based approaches that I use and would recommend.
You can click the following link to find out more about these next-generation, or ‘third-wave’ psychology services.
Currently, with the social distancing principle and quarantining, it could be hard to access your mental health specialist. Fortunately, remote therapy is effective and can be a medium you choose at this time.
However, just as in any treatment, there are pros and cons to consider. This is no different for counselling from a distance.
Some points you may wish to consider about web-based therapy include:
1) being comfortable with technology,
2) asking yourself whether you would be comfortable talking to someone remotely and,
3) whether you will have a quiet space free of any interruptions during your sessions.
If you are unsure about whether remote therapy is for you, you can consider in more detail the benefits and challenges of distance therapy.
A final important aspect to consider about web-based therapy is making sure that the ‘best-practices’ are being used. Both the both the Order of Psychologists of Quebec (OPQ) and have published ‘best-practices’ guidelines.
These guides were developed to ensure that patients receive the best care possible during online therapy. They cover important topics such as: confidentiality and informed consent, the use of technology, internet security issues and the logistics of distance therapy.
It is the responsibility of your psychologist, or therapist, to ensure that these guidelines are followed. Nonetheless, being aware of them before you begin therapy is helpful. You can click the following link to read about video counselling guidelines.
I hope that you have found this Guide on the ABCs of Online Therapy helpful.
Feel free to Contact Me by filling out the form below for any questions or to schedule an appointment.