Confronted with signing up with a desperately long NHS waiting list…I Seem Fun Talk Space… “I simply felt that I could not wait any longer– I was encouraged and ready to deal with my concerns and rather liked the idea of doing so in the comfort of my own house,” stated the 29-year-old, who resides in London. After an online search, he discovered a therapist whose profile suited his needs and booked a chat session for the next day.
Remote, text-based counselling is growing in popularity in the UK. The physician app Babylon provides therapy 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 signed up users worldwide, with many in the US.
Online training recommends therapists on everything from using emojis to preventing misconceptions. They also need to protect clients’ personal data– a problem that has actually caused controversy in the US, where big online therapy platforms have come under the spotlight.
Buckley said clients should check services’ personal privacy policies prior to registering. “Not all online counselling websites use professionally trained therapists or adhere to a principles policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the very first instance. As with all sort of services and assistance, what works for one person might not work for somebody else,” he said.
Marc Bush, primary policy adviser at Young Minds, stated that while online counselling services are valuable, “they should not replace in person therapy with an experienced specialist. If a young adult is struggling, we would encourage them to talk to their GP in the first instance, or to contact a recognized service like The Mix, Childline or the Samaritans.”.
For Rackham, who has actually generalised anxiety condition, online counselling wasn’t the right fit. “I felt it was near difficult for the therapist to really get a sense of the issues I was dealing with, as all they needed to go from was my typed-out words. I think I realised after that online session how vital social interaction was.