Faced with joining a frantically long NHS waiting list…Betterhelp Enable Mic Chrome… “I simply felt that I couldn’t wait any longer– I was motivated and prepared to handle my concerns and quite liked the idea of doing so in the convenience of my own house,” said the 29-year-old, who resides in London. After an online search, he discovered a therapist whose profile suited his needs and scheduled a chat session for the next day.
Remote, text-based counselling is growing in popularity in the UK. The medical professional app Babylon provides 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 many in the US.
Online training recommends therapists on whatever from using emojis to avoiding misconceptions. They also require to secure clients’ personal data– an issue that has actually triggered controversy in the United States, where big online treatment platforms have come under the spotlight.
Buckley said patients must examine services’ privacy policies prior to signing up. “Not all online counselling websites utilize expertly trained therapists or abide by an ethics policy, so ask your GP for a suggestion in the first circumstances. As with all type of services and support, what works for a single person may not work for somebody else,” he said.
Marc Bush, chief policy consultant at Young Minds, said that while online counselling services are valuable, “they shouldn’t change face-to-face therapy with a qualified specialist. If a young person is having a hard time, we would encourage them to speak with their GP in the very first instance, or to get in touch with a recognized service like The Mix, Childline or the Samaritans.”.
For Rackham, who has generalised stress and anxiety disorder, online counselling wasn’t the ideal fit. “I felt it was near difficult for the therapist to actually get a sense of the problems I was handling, as all they had to go from was my typed-out words. I think I understood after that online session how vital social interaction was.