Distance psychotherapy, also known as online psychotherapy or teletherapy , has come into force due to the great scope of technology in recent times and the current situation facing the world. Some people may detract from it because they believe that a psychotherapy can only be face-to-face or it will not be effective; however, the truth is that distance psychotherapy is effective and works.
The use of the Internet has been increasing in recent years, generating new ways of doing what was previously only face-to-face. In this regard, a United Nations report assures that by the end of 2015, about 3.2 billion people were online (that is, more or less, 43% of humanity), compared to an estimated 60% for 2020. Distance psychotherapy is good because it is not alien to this reality. Thanks to all these changes, distances are not obstacles to receiving effective psychotherapeutic care.
At first glance, the arrival of the Internet (with its social networks and apps ) has allowed that , in addition to feeling closer to those we love, by shortening distances, has also provided a new way of relating to society in general, including medical interests. Distance care facilitates the rapprochement between the psychotherapist and his patient, regardless of the geographical area in which each one is located.
Let’s see what we mean, then, by distance psychotherapy.
What is distance psychotherapy, teletherapy or online psychotherapy ?
Distance psychotherapy can be defined as the provision of therapeutic services that use information and communication technologies (ICT), to facilitate access and interaction between the therapist and the patient.
A distance psychotherapy is effective when it achieves that patients can access, remotely, mental health professionals who respond to their particular needs and that, of course, absolute presence is not necessary for the results.
Traditionally, psychotherapy occurred in the professional’s office; However, more and more people want a therapeutic space that involves the computer, cell phones or tablets .
The exchange of dialogue can take place orally, in writing, images, sounds or other similar forms. A situation can arise when the patient and therapist are not connected simultaneously (called “asynchronous”), which means there would be some communication through emails; or it can also be a simultaneous connection (called “synchronous”), when videoconferences, video calls, telephone calls, instant messaging are involved , when it occurs in real time with the use of microphones, webcams or the cameras of technological devices.
Characteristics of a good distance psychotherapy
- A distance psychotherapy is effective when the professional is competent. Good psychotherapy must succeed no matter if it occurs at a distance. A competent psychotherapist will know how to use technologies effectively to achieve satisfactory results for his patients.
- Distance psychotherapy is effective when it meets ethical standards. The patient must feel in a safe place where it will protect your privacy. The psychotherapist who exercises his work at a distance must try to transmit confidence.
- Distance psychotherapy is effective when consents are respected. Professionals in mental health should be able to provide answers to questions arising from patients regarding the treatment distance. Doing so guarantees compliance with the laws and regulations in force where distance psychotherapy is practiced.
- A distance psychotherapy is effective when there is confidentiality . No matter who is given online , psychotherapy effective distance to ensure respect for and the protection of individuality and inform sensitive infomation of patients, in addition to the deletion of data when it is required.
- A distance psychotherapy is effective when there is a correct evaluation. The psychotherapist can achieve – and must achieve – measurable results online, without losing their validity.
Some advantages of a good distance psychotherapy
- Save time. It is often difficult to coordinate schedules between the mental health professional and the patient. However, distance psychotherapy will make it possible to reduce time gaps because, being online , it achieves an easier way to reconcile times, especially when there are also very distant geographical distances; In other words, distance psychotherapy saves travel time and allows immediate connection wherever the patient is.
- It is accessible. Many people cannot be in a face-to-face psychotherapy because they have reduced mobility or have special conditions. A distance psychotherapy achieves that more people can access it without the need for great physical effort. You only need an internet connection and attend at the agreed time.
- It is done in a safe space . Some patients are afraid of going to an unfamiliar place. A significant advantage of distance psychotherapy is that people can connect from places where they feel comfortable and safe, facilitating interaction and dialogue.
- It is usually cheaper. Although it depends a lot on the type of professional that is chosen, in general, a distance psychotherapy reduces costs that go from the mobilization to the value of the consultations.
- It is just as effective as a face-to-face psychotherapy. The success of distance psychotherapy in recent times is that it has achieved results that are just as effective as those that occur in person. It is a myth to believe that because psychotherapy uses technological devices it diminishes the positive results. That’s not true.
- Monitoring can also be done online . Distance psychotherapy is effective because it usually provides patients and l use of tools and apps that are very useful to give continuity to their therapeutic process. Among these we can find applications with techniques to meditate or relax, notes on the devices that allow us to record progress, record how each person feels and even belong to social support groups.
Undoubtedly, there are costs beyond the economic ones that can also be considered: the social, family and personal ones that are typical of mental health. Not having a healthy mental health can affect different areas in each person and could originate from different situations, such as the loss of a job, bad interpersonal relationships, the death of a loved one, the indiscriminate use of drugs, discrimination, social stigma, bad emotional experiences, etc., that can happen to anyone.
Thanks to distance psychotherapy, we can all access a service that improves mental health and helps us overcome emotional difficulties. It is an excellent option.