Your Therapy

Online Therapy: A Great Option For These Uncertain Times

Online therapyAs I write this, it’s been about 10 days since Canada began dramatic steps to lessen the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, especially the requests for all citizens to self-isolate, and practise social distancing. Right now, all most of us can do is wait and hope. No one has any real answers about how long these measures will last or what exactly life will be like in a few weeks, let alone months.

So, it’s not surprising that many people are feeling intense or overwhelming anxiety. The uncertainty of our situation only makes it worse, as can loneliness from social isolation, and fear for our health and those of our loved ones. It’s important to deal with these feelings before they escalate into more serious mental health issues. But how do you keep appointments when you can’t leave your house? Technology has offered an excellent solution: online therapy.

Also known as e-therapy or distance therapy, online therapy sessions take place using video chat software, but are otherwise the same sort of session you’d experience in an office setting. In fact, a growing body of research shows that online counselling is just as effective as face-to-face sessions for many mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, stress management, career and relationship issues.

The results of this research come as no surprise to me, since online therapy has been an important part of my own practice for years. I’ve been offering e-therapy almost since secure and reliable chatting services became widely available. Although this point seems obvious, it’s worth saying: The reason online therapy is effective (especially compared to phone calls) is because we can see each other in real time. For both therapist and client, the non-verbal communication is a really important part of how we listen, relate to and connect with each other. And we can make that connection via our screens, almost as well as in person.

In fact, some clients prefer doing therapy remotely, for a variety of reasons, and not always ones you might expect. Some are simply so busy that it’s hard to schedule in-office visits, or they face a long and inconvenient commute (something Toronto residents will relate to). Others have serious mobility issues, so on-line counselling is the 21st century equivalent of an old fashioned house call. Online sessions can also be a way to continue therapy if you’re travelling or move away from the region. And conversely, it’s a really incredible way for people in remote areas to connect with mental health professionals, including hard-to-find specialists.

However, there are a few factors to consider about online therapy. The most important, is that clients need a private space where they feel comfortable to speak freely. Headphones are also helpful for increasing privacy. As with any online interaction, security is also important, so I use the popular and proven apps FaceTime, What’s App, OOMA and Skype. The client should also use a personal (rather than work or family) device, and remember to log out after the session is finished. These simple measures go a long way to protecting your privacy.

The arrival of this pandemic has introduced a degree of uncertainty, and even chaos into the lives of literally every person in this country. Witnessing line-ups at grocery stories, shuttered businesses and streets barren of cars is deeply unsettling. The word unprecedented barely seems adequate to describe these times.

Just remember that if you are in distress, go ahead and reach out to a therapist. It’s still possible to make and keep appointments without begin reckless with your health, or flouting these crucial social distancing measures. Technology has given us these really powerful ways to connect online, and there’s never been a better time to use them.

We Currently have Openings for Virtual Appointments: Connect with our dedicated therapists from the comfort of your own space. Day-Time In-Person Therapy: Join us during business hours for face-to-face sessions. Book your complimentary intake appointment.