Is Online Therapy as Effective as Face to Face Clinics?
Levels of poor mental health in the UK are at an all-time high – with an increasing number of children and adults suffering from common mental health issues that are constantly on the rise, as well as record numbers of men suffering with their mental health. Currently around one in four adults meet the criteria for developing severe depression, whilst depression is the leading cause of ill-health and disability on a global scale.
In a society where we only ever seem to be getting busier, finding the time to take care of yourself – enrolling in the local gym, eating three healthy meals a day and engaging in therapy when you feel you need to – takes a back seat as we juggle school runs and work deadlines, alongside planning Christmas and keeping the house at an acceptable level of cleanliness for unexpected visitors.
We currently live in a very “instant” society, with most of us available to our friends, loved ones and even employers 24 hours a day, seven days a week – regardless of the day, the month or the time of year. Anything we order from the internet can be delivered to our doorsteps within 24 hours and even the biggest of expenses such as new houses, luxury holidays or your dream car can be purchased and become “yours” within a couple of seconds and often just two clicks. In such an instant society, the idea of heading to your local GP to spend half an hour in a waiting room and a further six months for a referral is often beyond our patience.
On top of long waiting lists, if you do go through the waiting times for mental health on the NHS, by the time you are finally are invited to begin treatment it isn’t uncommon to have to travel hundreds of miles – especially for those living in rural areas – in order to access the best treatment for you. For those of us in full time jobs or who are full time parents, finding three hours a week to fit in an hour of therapy (plus the time spent finding parking and the money spent on a space) can all feel like too much effort to feel a little better.
Is Online Therapy the way Forward?
Recently – both in the USA and the UK – a number of different virtual clinics have appeared online, offering the same traditional practices you would expect to find in traditional clinics – without the long waiting lists of the NHS or high costs of private therapy, but does it really work?
A recent study found that online therapy – particularly for CBT (the UK’s “favourite” form of therapy) to treat depression (the UK’s most common form of mental health issue) – is as successful as treatment in “bricks and mortar” or traditional clinics – even with the most severe cases of depression.
This new study, published by the Journal of Medical Research examined the efficiency of online and virtual platforms that hope to replace traditional therapy sessions in local doctors’ surgeries or clinics. A variety of previous studies looked into the effectiveness of online therapy, however this particular study focused on people who were suffering with diagnosed “severe depression” and the effectiveness of CBT for treatment.
Overall the study found that online or virtual CBT sessions – even for the most severe forms of depression – can be just as effective as face-to-face therapy. The study even looked into the effectiveness of true online therapy clinics verses a “sham” app and found that true online therapy was significantly more effective.
Professor Lorenzo-Lauces and colleagues concluded: “A conservative interpretation of our findings is that the patient population sampled in the literature on self-guided iCBT is relatively comparable with that of studies of antidepressants or face-to-face psychotherapy.”
Why it Works
In a world where everything we could ever need is at our finger tips, online therapy could help to provide everyone who requires therapy with the service they need – instantly – skipping the waiting lists or avoiding the long commute and with the same chances of success as those who head to a “traditional” clinic in order to seek therapy.
Being able to log into to the app from anywhere that works for you – including your car on your lunch break or your living room when everyone else is out – brings therapy to you as easily (and instantly) as streaming a film on Netflix, ordering food through a mobile app or buying your entire family’s Christmas presents in one quick click.
Taking away the most common reasons (and sometimes excuses) of why we cannot attend therapy – the commute, the wait times, the cost or social stigma – makes it a lot easier to take the first step than ever before and can provide therapy to a number of people who otherwise would be unable to participate.
If you’re suffering with your mental health and wish to begin therapy, My Online Therapy is the UK’s first virtual psychology platform – offering exactly what you’d expect in a traditional clinic, but from the comfort of where works for you. Unlike other forms of therapy there is no need for long waiting lists, ridiculous commutes or anyone else knowing what you’re up to – the service is instant, can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and is probably the most discreet way to engage in therapy if you would prefer to keep it private. Learn more about the services we offer – as well as how we can help you – on our website, or through our online app which will match you with the therapy and therapist best suited to your needs.