While most people traditionally think of therapy as involving two comfortable chairs in a fairly cozy office, psychotherapy has been offered many different ways for decades (e.g. phone therapy and even therapy by email). Over the last few years, we have seen an increased interest in video based therapy. Using software similar to Facetime or Skype, online therapy or internet based counselling is an alternative method of traditional therapy that enables one the opportunity to meet with a mental health care provider even if you are far away or when your time is limited and you want to sneak in a session during a break from your daily demands.
While video based therapies also open up the opportunity to see professionals from a larger geographic region, it is important to recognize that much of the work provided over this medium must be provided by an individual registered provincially to work in Ontario. This means that you are generally restricted to Ontario-based psychotherapists and psychologists. This can also mean that moving out of the province may make it difficult for your local therapist to service you from afar. This restriction is not in place in all regions, so you should certainly discuss with your treatment provider whether this is an option for you.
I am often asked if I think the same level of connection can be cultivated in an online session versus an in person one. I would say that video based sessions are essentially 90% the same. Whenever possible, I prefer to have at least one in person session with a client before offering to switch to online support. This allows us some time to get to know each other and build a strong rapport with all of the context of in person. Perhaps there is something special about sharing the space with your therapist or having increased presence to allow the conversation to deepen. However, for many people the alternative of online support is more feasible and therefore more helpful than getting no support at all. Differences between online and in-person care may vary from person to person, and some might even find that they are more easily able to open when discussing concerns from the comfort of their own space. For individuals that struggle to get out of the house due to mobility issues, phobias, transportation barriers, or child/elederly care responsibilities this alternative avenue for support may be essential.
Because this form of support is becoming more commonly available at clinics across the world, it is now easier to continue therapeutic relationships despite life changes instead of having to start over with someone new. This online opportunity also opens up many avenues for individuals in rural communities to access qualified support that may not be available close by or may be limited by a local clinician’s areas of expertise. Furthermore, clinics are starting to offer online structured module based psychotherapy where clients complete educational pre-recorded videos and readings, complete homework and are monitored by a therapist. These might be more suited towards individuals who are not as comfortable opening up, looking for something structured and have limited financial funds to pursue long term options.
While video therapy may not be for everyone, it has become an increasingly available and research-supported method of intervention. If you find getting to session a challenge, why not consider talking to your support team about including some video based work.
Jessica is a member of the clinical wellness and learning support team at FLEX Psychology. Jessica started Wellness Wednesday out of a desire to provide further opportunities for her clients to extend their wellness journey to all avenues of their life. You can learn more about Jessica by clicking here or by learning more about her and the clinical team at FLEX Psychology by clicking here.