Online therapy is an increasingly popular option for sessions. All MPWC practitioners are experienced in conducting sessions via telephone and video conference (Skype) and have sufficiently fast internet speeds and computers to host high-quality online therapy sessions.
There are a range of benefits, and some drawbacks, to online therapy, so assessing if it’s right for you is important.
THE BENEFITS OF ONLINE THERAPY
Online therapy is incredibly convenient. There is no travel time; you can do it in the comfort of your own home or the convenience of where ever you are.
The world is your oyster if you are open to online therapy; you can work with anyone in the world. This is particularly good if you live in a country where you don’t speak the native language fluently. Doing therapy online means you can access therapists in your native language.
It’s also a great option for people who travel a lot but don’t want to interrupt their therapy work while they’re away from home. All you need is a good internet connection, some headphones and a private space and you can see your therapist from anywhere.
There is a growing body of research that supports the effectiveness of online therapy showing that it’s at least as effective (sometimes more) than face to face therapy. You can find some of this research here and here.
Online therapy is often less confronting and is therefore a good starting point for people who are new to therapy or who find the idea of face to face therapy too overwhelming. A cautionary note here though; therapy requires you leave your comfort zones (accompanied by your therapist) so using online therapy as a way to avoid dealing with discomfort that you might feel doing face to face sessions is not a great long-term option. Chat with your therapist about this one.
It’s also great for people who find leaving the house difficult for physical or psychological reasons.
THE DRAWBACKS OF ONLINE THERAPY
If you’re uncomfortable with technology or are highly sensitive to electromagnetic fields, online therapy may not be a good option for you.
There are some technical requirements needed for online therapy. You need a good internet connection, a fast device (could be computer, tablet or phone, but it needs to work well), and headphones. A lot of people already have access to all this, but for those who don’t, online therapy is not an option.
While the travel time to and from face to face therapy can feel like a waste of time, many people report they use the time as a reflective space to think about what they want to talk about in the session on the way there, then to reflect on the session on the way back. When you do online therapy you would ideally schedule 15-30 minutes either side of the session to plan and reflect.
Sometimes the technology fails. Even when both the client and therapist have all the right technology, call quality can be variable and call drop outs can happen. In our experience it’s an issue 2-3% of the time, so not a huge problem, but clients need to be aware that even if the call quality is low, or the connection drops out regularly, they still have to pay the full session fees.
Some more physical based therapy interventions are harder to do via online therapy. Many therapies don’t do any touch-based interventions however Processworkers sometimes do (only with clear consent). Other options can always be found, but it’s just one limitation.
Anecdotally we believe that there are differences in the therapeutic relationship between online and face to face therapy, however, it’s hard to generalise that it’s better or worse. Our experience suggests it’s both. Online therapy enables some aspects of the relationship but inhibits others. Some research suggests that there is little impact on what is called the therapeutic alliance when therapy is conducted online. However, the body of research into this issue is not big enough to really come to any solid conclusions, and research is no substitute for your own experience and preferences. If you feel you can’t connect with a therapist online, then it might not be for you.
Some people just really like the therapist’s office and having a special space in which to do their deep inner work.
THE REQUIREMENTS FOR ONLINE THERAPY
If you are going to try out online therapy, here’s what you’ll need:
- a modern device (computer, tablet or phone) with either a built-in or external web camera (unless you are doing audio only sessions)
- around 800mb of internet usage
- a quick internet connection (4G on a phone or tablet usually works, 3G not so much)
- a headset/earphones with microphone – background noise and echoes can make sessions quite difficult so a headset is important. You can get good enough versions from around $20.
- Skype – if you don’t already have it, you can download Skype here (it’s free)
- a quiet, private location, with enough light.