Virtual therapy: the pros and cons of a virtual psychologist.
Research has shown that seeing a virtual psychologist is just as effective as having traditional face-to-face therapy. Virtual therapy also comes with added benefits such as there being no need to travel or to book time off from other commitments such as work, along with being more flexible. This means that virtual therapy can be much more convenient than office based therapy. Virtual therapy may also help you to feel less stigmatised, due to no one seeing you in a therapists office.
What is virtual therapy?
Virtual therapy can be seen as the provision of remote mental health services usually by a secure video and audio platform, such as Skype. Virtual therapy may also be commonly referred to as other names such as online counselling, cyber counselling, online therapy, and e-therapy. Professionals who offer virtual therapy often include psychologists, counsellors, psychiatrists, family therapists and social workers.
Before deciding on if virtual psychology is right for you, it is important to consider your needs. Only you know if this type of therapy is the right fit for you and there is no one-size-fits-all approach for accessing mental health support. Although virtual therapy has many benefits, if you have severe mental health issues then a more hands-on approach may be more beneficial. If this is the case, then it may not be the best option for you. Furthermore, it is usually helpful for you to have access to a local support network in the case of an emergency or a crisis. This could be your GP, another professional, a friend, or a family member.
Virtual therapy services
With an estimated one in four adults in the UK experiencing mental health issues and a significant decrease in qualified mental health professionals, virtual psychology services play an important role in supporting individuals with mental health concerns.
People of all ages in a wide range of situations can access virtual therapy technology. Depending on which professional you decide to see, virtual therapy services such as Psychologyhelp, can offer you a range of support including psychological assessments and treatment, risk assessments and Mental Health Act assessments.
If you’re considering virtual therapy, the best services will ask you to make sure that you have a secure phone line or internet connection and that you have a private space in which to talk to your therapist in. This is to protect your privacy and confidentiality.
Virtual psychology providers should provide for you and your needs and ensure that the organisation’s therapists are suitably qualified, experienced and a good fit for you and your circumstances. They should also provide therapy through a safe and secure platform. This includes all of the protection that traditional face-to-face therapy offers such as having adequate security measures in place to protect electronically held sensitive information, as well as being compliant with the Data Protection Act 2018 and related General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) policies and procedures.
Advantages of virtual therapy
One advantage of virtual therapy is that it can often save you more money than attending therapy in a more traditional setting. This is often due to you not needing to book time off work to attend an appointment which would have resulted in loss of earnings. There is also no need to travel to appointments which means no money being spent on transport or fuel costs. This makes virtual therapy a good option if you live in a remote area or have physical limitations which would make it difficult for you to attend at a therapists office.
A further advantage is that virtual services also offer you flexible appointments. This makes it easier to fit appointments in around your commitments and daily life. Furthermore, the having therapy virtually should allow you to speak to a therapist from the comfort of your home or any other place of your choosing as long as it’s a private place with a secure phoneline or internet connection.
Many people also find it much more comfortable to speak to a therapist in their own home and feel that it provides greater confidentiality. A lot of people also report feeling less vulnerable when getting virtual therapy which can reduce feelings of anxiety around having therapy.
Virtual psychology may also help you to feel less stigmatised. This is because you do not have to be seen by others, such as people in the waiting room or administrative staff. Research also shows that many people actually prefer online therapy such as those who have experienced abuse, those with physical difficulties, those who have PTSD, or who are in an abusive relationship.
The disadvantages of virtual therapy
While seeing a virtual psychologist provides many benefits, there are also some disadvantages to consider. Virtual therapy is often not appropriate for you if you have a serious psychiatric illness which needs close and direct treatments. It may also be less effective in complex situations.
If you’re seeing a virtual psychologist, it was also be difficult for the therapist to respond to crisis situations. If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or have suffered a personal tragedy, it can be difficult for the therapist to respond quickly and effectively during this crisis. It is also more difficult for the therapist to provide direct assistance.
With virtual therapy, information is being transmitted online. This can make privacy leaks and hacks much more of a concern. Unreliable technology may also make it more difficult to access treatment.
If you are thinking about online therapy but are concerned about some of the disadvantages, or have additional questions, then contact the therapy providers such as Psychologyhelp.
Finding a virtual psychologist
When deciding on virtual therapy an important step is to find a therapist that is right for you. This includes making sure that the therapists are suitably licensed and qualified, with considerable experience in the area that you need help with. This is so you can get the best therapy online as possible.
When choosing a therapist, you should decide on someone that you feel at ease with and feel able to hold an open and honest conversation with. If you feel uncomfortable then therapy is unlikely to be helpful.
Once you have decided on a therapist, they should inform you of the nature of the therapy offered and provide you with information on their confidentiality policy. For example, most therapists have a policy in which confidentiality can be broken if there is a clear risk to you or to others.
The British Psychological society (BPS) provides information on how to find a psychologist in the UK, including providing lists of qualified Chartered Psychologists, Psychotherapists, Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners and Cognitive Behavioural Therapists.
How virtual therapy with Psychologyhelp can help you
At Psychologyhelp, you can speak with a therapist online within 24 hours of sending your request. Responses to completed forms on the website and initial emails are likely to be replied to faster than this.
At Psychologyhelp, we will always match you with a qualified therapist who specialises in the issue that you’re experiencing. This is so you know that you’re receiving the best therapy possible. Some of the areas that our therapists have experience in include: