The internet has revolutionized the processes across the sectors, making things easier and faster. The delivery of services is no exception. Now people prefer even consulting a doctor online and seek his advice in case of a health problem. Consultancy apart, should a patient also go for online therapy sessions? Have a look at see more here for more info on this.
Why bother yourself by pushing to a therapist’s clinic which may further give you anxiety attacks? Reaching out a therapist is much easier online. There is evidence that online therapies have helped patients in treating many diseases. It not just makes the clinic easily accessible from a long distance, or help avoid the long queues, but also rules out the fear of stigma involving certain illnesses.
Reaching out to the best specialist, online therapies are very useful. According to an evidence-based review in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), internet-delivered cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has significantly helped people who have been diagnosed with depression.
Going online with CBT
A recent study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders says that the internet-based treatment is at par with the in person treatment people have been undergoing over the years. The University of Zurich in Switzerland and the University of Leipzig in Germany believe that in the long-term, online psychotherapy could be even more effective.
As part of the study, the researchers selected 62 patients suffering from depression for receiving CBT over an eight-week trial period. Exactly half of the participants were given a face-to-face therapy along with lesser number of assignments as compared to online assisted therapy. The latter participants received a regular feedback from a therapist without any video assisted interaction.
The study outcome showed not much differences between the two groups. For face-to-face therapy patients 50 percent were not diagnosed with depression anymore as compared to 53 percent among the online patients. Even after three months, the condition of the depressed patients treated online continued to improve. On the contrary, patients with face-to-face therapy worsened after discontinuing the treatment sessions.
How can online CBT benefit
Dr. David Gratzer, attending psychiatrist, and Faiza Khalid-Khan, social worker and director of Mental Health, The Scarborough Hospital, Toronto strongly believe in internet assisted treatment. Dr. Gratzer says, “In the age of Google, this psychological intervention is empowering, clinically efficient and consistent with the way that, increasingly, patients interact with health care.”
“There is as much evidence for cognitive behavioral therapy as there is for medications to treat mild and moderate depression, as well as evidence that they have a synergistic effect,” says Dr. Gratzer. “In other words, for the hundreds of thousands of Canadians struggling with depression, Internet-assisted cognitive behavioral therapy offers a cost-effective and empowering way of accessing an important treatment.”
For patients who are shy and fear the stigma of suffering from mental illness, internet based therapy is a boon. Such patients may be comfortable in speaking to a virtual therapist than an in person therapist. Moreover, the online therapy saves a lot of time and ensures patients’ convenience.
However, the trials do not recommend the online therapy for the patients suffering from severe depression. The researchers believe that the internet delivered cognitive behavioral therapy can contribute largely in patient empowerment and increased clinical efficiency.
The study also showed shortcomings like low adherence by patients and lack of home access to internet. Some were unable to have an interpersonal touch and thus lacked in creating conversations that may have encouraged the patients to participate.