A Reflection On Online Therapy…10 years After

I have now being practicing online for about 10 years. From the early attempts using Skype and low internet bandwidth, I have moved to fibre optic internet and encrypted video systems.  Of course, this level of technology is an essential part of what I do and without it, nothing works. However, there is a lot more to it than that.

When I first decided to stop having clients in my office and gradually move online, I had no idea what to expect. Not many where doing it at that time and those who were used it as  back up if someone couldn’t attend. This was phone based and i also did this if someone’s car broke down or they were ill. However, I wanted to take it completely online with video interaction. I had the idea then that this was the future, that eventually nobody would visit a therapist in his or her office any longer. Ten years on, there are many more therapists online but people are still utilising office based services. I still firmly believe the thought I  had ten years ago and there are signs that online based services are taking a real hold…in the UK especially.

I would like to think I  have learnt a lot over the last 10 years and hopefully, I am putting that to good use. The differences,  I have found have been rather staggering, but I firmly believe that online therapy practiced seriously and with the client’s best interests at heart.

I have written here before that the decisive factor in the therapeutic process is the relationship between the therapist and the client. Online Therapy has been criticised because many feel that this relationship cannot ever be the same as in a traditional therapy setting. My experience is that there is no basis for this thinking. Online therapy practiced well, will actually promote this process rather hinder it. I cannot talk for other therapists working online but due to the fact that I allow clients to reach me between sessions by email, the relationship has the best chance of being developed.

Another criticism often aimed at doing therapy online is that it doesn’t cover one of the most important aspects if interaction…thag is analysing body language and facial gestures. Again, due to the quality of video imaging software programs available, it is just like being in a therapist’s office. Equally, privacy is taken care of with encryption.

The bottom line is that taking therapy online is an intense experience for client and therapist alike. However, as technology improves, one can assume that more and more therapists will take that step. I myself, have found it a rewarding experience working with different faiths, cultures and nationalities.

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