Our way of living and communicating is changing hand in hand with technology. Psychology has not remained unaffected by this trend and has been incorporating advances in information and communication technologies to treat different disorders and facilitate dialogue with patients. As a result, the figure of the online psychologist is increasingly common .
The advantages of online therapy
The role of the online psychologist does not differ from that performed in person in a psychological office or center . In fact, the professionalism and the code of ethics are the same, the only difference is that online psychological therapy is done remotely. What at first might seem like a limitation actually brings several advantages.
- Access to more professionals from anywhere. With online therapy, the person has at their disposal a wider range of psychologists from which to choose. The geographical barriers that used to be an obstacle to access therapy or psychologists specialized in certain disorders disappear.
- Greater comfort. Online psychological therapy does not require travel , so it is usually a more convenient and comfortable option than face-to-face sessions. Finding a gap in the agenda to schedule online sessions is usually easier since they require less time, which results in therapeutic adherence .
- Reduced costs. The online therapist usually has lower fixed costs since he does not need to have a large office with a waiting room at his disposal. For that reason, online sessions are often cheaper , although the quality of service is the same. This reduction in costs also allows a greater number of people to access the psychological treatments they need.
- Build trust and intimacy. In the privacy of home, many people find it easier to trust the online psychologist. When the patient is in a familiar environment, he feels more comfortable and safe, so he lowers his defenses and opens up. As a consequence, the therapeutic relationship will flow better and it is possible to obtain results sooner.
- Expand communication options. Online therapy incorporates other communication channels beyond the face-to-face that can be particularly useful for people who suffer from certain disorders, such as agoraphobia. In these cases, allowing the patient to connect via mobile or computer to carry out the first sessions is vital to advance in the treatment. In fact, many people also find it easier to take the first step and ask an online therapist for help.
- Ease of tracking. Travel is often a cause of setbacks in psychotherapy, especially when sessions have to be interrupted because the therapist or patient is out of town. However, the online psychologist only needs an Internet connection to continue with the therapeutic process or help the patient when he needs it most, wherever he is.
How have psychologists adapted to new technologies?
The classic therapist-patient dyad in a face-to-face consultation is giving way to other forms of action in which technology acts as a mediator or facilitator of the therapeutic process . In addition to using the Internet to offer psychological therapy online, psychologists are also incorporating other technological tools into their practice.
Virtual and Augmented Reality , for example, are already part of phobia therapy since they allow the patient to be immersed in the phobic context in a controlled and safe way. This technology recreates the classic systematic desensitization techniques, creating an immersive virtual environment that “tricks” the brain so that patients learn to control the anxiety generated by these situations and overcome their fear.
Online psychologists are also turning to applications and/or programs to apply evaluation tests to patients that include automatic correction systems designed to speed up the diagnostic process. In addition, they have incorporated online tools into their practice to organize patient information , manage profiles and appointments, take notes and systematize evaluations.