Between wildfires, pandemics, and lockdowns, we’ve all been having a pretty rough time in 2020 and 2021. While many continue to embody what they might call the “stiff upper lip” mentality, others are realizing that there’s no need to exist in a vacuum-like state. It’s not a sign of weakness to seek help for one’s mental strain, and a growing number of Australians are looking to psychologists and therapists for help. What’s really interesting is that not everyone is looking for an in-person consultation, instead of looking online.
Let’s say you do want to book a psychologist online, what are the particular benefits of doing that rather than going to a brick-and-mortar office and seeing them in person? Surely the impacts of online therapy are diminished by the lack of real physical proximity…or are they?
1. Better Access for Remote Areas
One thing that has been clearly seen is that people who live in rural areas — and especially indigenous peoples — are much more likely to suffer from mental health concerns than those who live in cities. What compounds these issues is a lack of access to mental health services in the local area. It’s not common to walk down a rural high street and see among the grocery stores and mom & pop shops a person hanging a shingle for therapy services.
Online services allow those in remote areas who have no time or wherewithal to drive into the cities for therapy to access these options and thus find channels that can help with their mental health problems.
2. Just as Good Visually
If the online therapy is done via a video link, then there’s actually very little real difference in the way that therapists can interact with their patients. Some criticism leveled at online therapy has pointed to the fact that therapists need to be able to closely observe the physical reactions and body language of their patients as they work in order not just to understand their condition better, but to monitor their progress in treatment.
Internet connections in 2021 are much better than they were in the past, and that translates to much better, faster, and smoother video connections between 2 or more people. The technology isn’t perfect, and may not be 100 percent of the experience that a therapist and patient get in person, but therapists can clearly gain much from a fast and smooth video link, and certainly, enough to offer effective services.
3. Enhanced Confidentiality
Doing therapy online provides a much stronger base of confidentiality than people realize, especially when compared to visiting a therapist in person. Going to a therapist’s office means having to be out in public, and it’s impossible to fully predict who you might bump into as you walk into, out of, or to and from the office. There might be people you know in the waiting room or people you don’t want to see spotting you leaving or arriving at the office location.
A lack of confidentiality is a big obstacle to people getting the kinds of mental health assistance that they need because of the stigma attached to such issues and care. Online therapy provides a much more reassuring sense of anonymity since it can be done in the privacy of one’s home, and even in a shared home can be done in the privacy of your own room. Nobody can see you booking appointments, arriving at appointments or leaving them.
Finally, it’s hard to deny the sheer convenience and flexibility of online mental health services. It’s easier to find the time and the will to do something when you can do it online. You no longer have to factor in things like traffic, commutes, work times, and other things. You can make appointments at times that suit you, and “getting there” is simply a matter of logging in. It’s a 21st-century solution to old and enduring problems.