Friday, 14 September 2012

Online Therapy Via Skype: The Power of Talk

Video Therapy aka Online Therapy consists of a meeting between you and your therapist over the internet using a web-cam. You can see and hear the therapist and vice versa. It is the most like face-to-face counseling. Those who find the invisibility and anonymity of email or chat counseling might not find video therapy as attractive.

Online Internet psychotherapy and counseling through Skype is becoming more popular than ever for busy people. As a professional online psychotherapist, I have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of clients who prefer to have therapy sessions in the comfort of their own space rather than driving to a therapist's office. Many say that they find online sessions using Skype or other video cam formats to be less intimidating than face-to-face sessions and that they feel generally more relaxed and in charge of the process. This is good, because the purpose of any form of therapy is to give you the tools you need to better manage emotional suffering so that you can live a happier life.

It is surprising how effective Skype therapy sessions are. Although client and therapist may be miles apart, it feels like you are in the same room. This format is becoming very popular for people who travel, who are single parents, for those in remote areas or people who are unable to leave home for one reason or another. It is a lifeline for those with agoraphobia, who are trying to learn how to cope with venturing out.

Are you lacking time, but can schedule time before work, at lunch or after hours? Don't want or need face to face? Then a phone session may be good for you. Phone sessions allow convenience in a busy or work schedule. Phone sessions also offer immediate response, but allows for a connection to a voice. Phone sessions are highly effective and have been used for years by crisis hotlines. Many clients who use traditional therapies also do phone check-ins with their therapists.

Pros and Cons of Phone or Online Video Therapy

1. Pros:

Convenience: You can have therapy or a consultation right from your home or office during a time that is convenient for you. There's no commute, no parking problems.

Assessable: You can interact with your therapist when you travel, when you don't drive, don't have a car, don't like to drive or when conditions or responsibilities make difficult to leave the house.

Synchronous: You can communicate with your therapist in "real time" vs. waiting for an answer by email or chat.

Effectiveness: Phone or video therapy has been shown to be as effective as face to face and of course if it's easier to get to you're more likely to attend.

Privacy: Although there is a negative side to privacy, there are no concerns about being seen walking into a therapist's office or bumping into a friend as you leave. You can also interact with your therapist without having to take time off of work or make up excuses as to where you are going.

Security/Confidentiality: SKYPE has been shown to be the most secure and confidential of the video conferencing site.There is no permanent recording of a SKYPE session by the therapist so if you don't record it, it will not be seen by any other person as email or chat might. Cell phones are not fully secure. The best method to ensure privacy is to use SKYPE phone service or a land line.

Cost: Some insurance companies are reimbursing for video-therapy and this trend should be growing. Reimbursement for phone therapy is hit or miss at this time but is usually not reimbursable.

2. Cons:

Absence of Physical Closeness: You cannot experience a warm touch on the shoulder or the care expressed when your therapist hands you a tissue.

With Phone therapy there is a lack of Non-verbal Cues: Misunderstandings can happen during the course of this commutation because gestures, facial expression are absent. Always ask for clarification.

Privacy and Confidentiality: Privacy is both a pro and a con. As many of us are aware, there are ways to gain access to personal computers, to intercept email, and to install key stroke tracking software that records all of your activity on the computer. If you are using a computer that is shared or accessible to another person they may gain access to some or all of the content of your sessions. This applies to times where there is a written record such as with email and/or IM/Chat. Please note:Typically you do not have the right to private correspondence when using a work computer.

Professionalism: There are some on the internet who pose as therapists/advisors yet have little or no training. Always look for a site where the clinician offers professional licensure verification.

Fraud: Make sure that your payment is handled securely and that others cannot access your credit card or bank account.

Technological Challenges: At times an internet connection can go down or a computer malfunctions and communication via the internet is not possible. So, just like times where there is bad weather that impairs travel, a session may have to be rescheduled. For times like this it is good to have an alternate source of contact with your therapist so that you might notify him/her of the technology problem and vice versa.

by Therapion Consulting