The efficacy of online therapy truly depends on the need of the patient. There are certain online therapies, which can be effective for certain patients. As a matter of fact, a number of different research has found that telemedicine or online therapy has been quite effective on different kinds of mental disorders.
Research has found that the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, a kind of talk therapy, to be as effective over Skype or telephone as it is when conducted face-to-face with the patient, for treating mental health conditions. The CBT aims to make the patient aware of his/her negative thinking patterns with the help of counselling sessions. Once the patient is made aware of their negative thinking patterns, they learn how to appropriately respond to such negative thoughts and challenging situations.
Furthermore, a small study conducted in 2014 found that teenagers, who received counselling sessions over phone for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), found it to be equally helpful as face-to-face sessions that their peers attended.
In 2016, another study conducted by researchers in South Carolina found that veterans diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) responded well to online therapy carried out over video conference just as well to therapy conducted in an office.
So, there is no doubt that teletherapy or online therapy works, However, Mary Ann Dutton from Georgetown University Medical Center stresses that the personal connection between a patient and the therapist plays a major role in determining the effectiveness of any therapy. Therefore, if a patient finds it hard to build a connection with the counsellor or therapist, the treatment won’t work whether it is conducted online, over the phone, or face-to-face.
Jonathan Abramowitz from the University of North Carolina agrees with Dutton and adds that while online therapy is quite effective, it isn’t for everyone. This applies mostly to treatment processes that comprise of a more hands-on approach. For example, a therapist, who uses exposure therapy to treat a patient afraid of riding elevators, would not be able to treat him/her effectively over Skype or phone. In such cases, the therapist needs to physically accompany the patient on several elevator trips to get past the unease or fear.
However, this does not mean the online therapy is a no go. The main thing is to find the right therapist or counsellor, with whom the patient can connect and trust easily. While research suggests that there is a shortage of mental health care provider, experts are of the view that online therapy can counter this problem, particularly in the rural areas where there is a dearth of trained professionals.
So, if you find online therapy to be working for you there is no reason to look back.