Confronted with signing up with a desperately long NHS waiting list…Better Help Phelps… “I just felt that I couldn’t wait any longer– I was inspired and ready to deal with my issues and quite liked the idea of doing so in the comfort of my own home,” said the 29-year-old, who resides in London. After an online search, he discovered a therapist whose profile fit his requirements and scheduled a chat session for the next day.
Remote, text-based counselling is growing in appeal in the UK. The physician app Babylon uses treatment to 150,000 active users, while PlusGuidance, an online counselling service, has 10,000 users. The US-based service BetterHelp also has 150,000 signed up UK users (though not all are active). Talkspace, another online therapy platform, reports it has 500,000 registered users worldwide, with most in the US.
Online training encourages therapists on everything from utilizing emojis to avoiding misconceptions. They likewise require to safeguard patients’ individual data– a problem that has triggered controversy in the US, where big online therapy platforms have come under the spotlight.
Buckley said patients should check services’ personal privacy policies prior to registering. “Not all online counselling sites use professionally trained therapists or comply with an ethics policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the first circumstances. Just like all type of services and support, what works for someone may not work for someone else,” he said.
Marc Bush, chief policy adviser at Young Minds, stated that while online counselling services are important, “they should not change face-to-face therapy with a skilled specialist. If a young person is struggling, we would encourage them to speak to their GP in the first instance, or to call a recognized service like The Mix, Childline or the Samaritans.”.
For Rackham, who has generalised anxiety condition, online counselling wasn’t the ideal fit. “I felt it was near difficult for the therapist to truly get a sense of the issues I was handling, as all they needed to go from was my typed-out words. I believe I understood after that online session how important interpersonal interaction was.