Anxiety and online therapy
Anxiety may feel isolating and very difficult to live with on a regular day, so we can't even start to imagine how it might feel in today's pandemic situation. Regular coping mechanisms are interrupted and helpful people and situations may not be so easily available or accessible any more.
Whilst some people take this time to spend quality time with family, work from home, even learn a new skill - people with anxiety might feel they are not able to cope and might struggle to find the positivity in a situation that might appear to be easier to handle for other people. The feeling of isolation and helplessness might be overwhelming.
Us therapists feel helpless at times too. We came into a helping profession to do just that; to help. It can get stressful for us not being able to continue sessions when they were really making a difference for our patients, knowing that they might go home and feel isolated and anxious. Patients who we were seeing and who were responding to therapy in a fantastic way are not able to attend in person any more due to government guidelines. We can offer online therapy, but some people might be distrustful of the success of online therapy and might not even give it a try. Many therapists have been giving therapy over the internet for a long time, and with amazing results, but sometimes it is hard to convince people to try something new.
Like with any relatively new thing, it's very understandable for people to be distrustful. We all might remember when online shopping came to be and it felt like such a strange thing. Newsweek published an article in 1995 called "The Internet? Bah!” about how the internet will fail. They said that the local shopping centre can do in one afternoon more business than the whole internet can handle in a month. The article explained that shopping online was missing the most vital component: the salespeople! It was unimaginable in 1995 that the internet could handle so much data so safely and effectively and people might be able to make shopping decisions without salespeople. Needless to say that now we take it for granted that we shop, chat, learn and pay online. One can even order their prescriptions online and I can talk to my cats vet through an app! We know that shopping centres, cafes, restaurants, pubs have not ceased to exist. People still like cinema despite streaming services. We had the best of both worlds, and a choice.
There is some fresh research published about internet therapy - a comprehensive study by the Berkeley Well-Being Institute found that online therapy was as effective as face-to-face counselling. In fact, 98% of study participants made significant progress. Another interesting study tested the effects of mindfulness-based therapy that was delivered online. Findings showed significant improvement for depression, anxiety and general mental wellness. Another symptom people were found to seek online therapy for, was sleep issues. It makes sense that often when you're anxious, depressed, or stressed, it can be difficult to sleep. In a study conducted to analyze the efficacy of online therapy and insomnia, researchers found that online therapy improved people's sleep.
Maybe it's time to re-define therapy and therapeutic interaction like we did with shopping and learning? Maybe it's time to give online therapy a chance and see for yourself how it works?
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