It wasn’t so long ago that the idea that we would be conducting online counselling sessions seemed like some sort of far-fetched, futuristic fantasy. Even when it became a possibility and some therapists such as myself began to see the occasional client online, this was considered to be highly unusual. In fact, when I’ve participated in workshops and the subject of online therapy has come up, it has often been met with a great deal of resistance from therapists who considered it too much of a deviation from the tried and trusted norm of meeting in person. With the advent of Covid-19, however, things have changed dramatically and most therapists are now working online.
The reality is that online therapy has slowly been gaining traction for some time now. According to statistics from explodingtopics.com, there has been an 82% increase in demand for online therapy in the past five years. Unsurprisingly, however, 33% of this growth has happened in the last six months and we have the Covid-19 to largely thank for this current state of affairs.
When the lockdowns arrived back in March this year, any therapist who was able to, including myself, moved their entire practice online. What became apparent very quickly, even to therapists who had never used this medium before, was that it actually worked very well.
In this article, I am going to present what I consider to be my top three reasons why you might like to consider online therapy sessions as an alternative to visiting a therapist in person.
My first reason concerns the excellent quality of video conferencing platforms today. The reality is that the technology for offering online therapy sessions has been available for some time now including the necessary end to end encryption ensuring that conversations remain private and confidential.
I’ve been working online for a little over ten years now and can attest to the dramatic improvement in this respect. Back in the day, the only viable platform for working online was Skype and this could be a bit touch and go at times with frequent freezing of the screen and an assortment of strange and peculiar noises accompanying sessions.
So what’s changed since then? Well the answer is very simple. We have seen a dramatic increase in bandwidth. Verizon.com defines bandwidth as
“The maximum amount of data transmitted over an internet connection in a given amount of time.”
They go on to state that:
“Bandwidth is often mistaken for internet speed when it’s actually the volume of information that can be sent over a connection in a measured amount of time – calculated in megabits per second (Mbps).”
This increase in bandwidth enabling far faster internet connections along with dramatic improvements in the quality of the video conferencing platforms themselves is the primary reason that online therapy has taken off so dramatically since the lockdowns.
In addition to Skype, there are numerous new apps such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Facetime and even WhatsApp offering high quality video conferencing some of which offer secure end to end encryption.
These are just some of the better-known names in the business. There are, in fact, plenty of other platforms many of which brand themselves as “telemedicine” companies such as Vsee.com which is one of the apps I use and which provide high quality video conferencing with end to end encryption for doctors psychiatrists and counsellors.
What’s so good about all of this is that when the technology is working well, you don’t even really have to think about it during the session. With really good quality picture and audio, there is nothing to distract from the conversation which means that you will be able to really focus on what you’re discussing with your therapist.
Encryption is very important as well since it means you can speak to your therapist safe in the knowledge that what you are saying is private and confidential, just as it would be were you to be meeting with them face to face.