(Why Online Makes More Sense Today)
Online therapy has been growing rapidly in the last 5 years from the explosion of technologies for the healthcare sector. Despite these amazing advancements, online therapy continues to be a very misunderstood concept. Given so many options available to the public it’s easy to get lost in the fray, so let us demystify this concept and compare it to traditional therapy program deliveries.
We have certainly come a long way with healthcare and technology. Therapy done online also termed as; e-counseling and e-therapy, is any therapy delivered over the internet via, video, email, chat, self-help browsing. Starting with the commercial use of internet in the ’90s, obtaining information was made fast and easy using a personal computer. A person suffering from addictions, or other forms of mental illness could look up any information pertaining to their alignment at literally any time of the day, seven days a week. Today we have gone from researching topics of interest, to receiving actionable therapy delivered to anyone from their personal computer, mobile or tablet. Although the medium of delivery has changed the same methodologies and processes upheld within conventional practices have remained generally the same.
For those suffering particularly from alcohol, drug use or eating disorders, traditional therapy programs can bring many challenges and obstacles. When one thinks of ‘rehab’ a whole assortment of flashy imagery pops up, mostly fueled with the help of Hollywood reference points. Here are two all familiar ‘movie’ type scenarios; a patient runs off to a beautiful secluded retreat offering kale and spinach smoothies, or a patient enters into an intense AA group meeting held in a dank basement somewhere in the city. No surprise these are over-glamorization of therapy and never fully include how difficult even getting admitted into a program can be for patients. Traditional addiction therapy methods can be helpful, however, on-line methods are proving to fill many gaps left behind by general therapy deliveries.
As a former addiction counselor working in a hospital, I saw first-hand how complicated it can be for a patient suffering from addiction to enter therapy. Depending on the hospital or care facility there may be a qualification process, coupled with a tedious string of administrative paper-work to be completed prior to being considered. Once admitted the logistical nightmare of organizing one’s life to accommodate for therapy, which may include being admitted to a facility for weeks or months at a time begins. Think for a moment how much of a life-altering upheaval it is to organize one’s affairs prior to being admitted into a rehab clinic for any prolonged period of time.
Challenges of traditional rehab clinic therapy include:
- Organizing child-care
- Organizing pet care
- Re-scheduling work commitments
- Affording the high financial cost of therapy. It can be incredibly expensive for most to afford and many insurance packages do not cover this.
Admitting you have an issue with alcohol, drugs or other forms of addictions is hard, but even harder is seeking help. The more barriers we put on those in need, the less likely they are to seek help. Staying at a rehab clinic insulates you from the outside world and may cause further triggers. There are no silver bullets when it comes to treatment or recovery and the road to recovery is long and should be managed differently. Given that relapse rates are high, the healthcare community must think outside of the box and face addictions as life-long illnesses to be properly managed, rather than being subject to quick-fix treatments in isolation.
Online therapy can help to alleviate certain challenges by eliminating obstacles for getting started and by keeping patients in their normal life routines, instead of placing them in a temporary controlled, artificial environment.
Main Benefits of Online therapy include:
- Easy to Access and Enroll: for many online therapy programs a new patient has a pre-consultation to understand their issues and determine the best care. After they can choose their program and start therapy faster.
- Logistically Convenient: whether a patient is downloading self-help material or immersed in a live online, therapy group program, it can be done from anywhere. They just need internet access and a device.
- Affordability: online therapy programs are far more affordable than a traditional clinic.
Online therapy hasn’t overtaken traditional face-to-face therapy and is not perfect for every instance. Depending on the severity of each condition, certain in-person detox services may be required. Online therapies merely provide further options and can be a wonderful addition to existing traditional treatments. Always consult a trusted healthcare professional, be sure to research what is available for you, and keep an open mind about what is best for your recovery.