Faced with joining a frantically long NHS waiting list…Meghan Griffin Talkspace… “I just felt that I couldn’t wait any longer– I was inspired and prepared to handle my issues and quite liked the idea of doing so in the comfort of my own home,” said the 29-year-old, who lives in London. After an online search, he found 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 uses therapy to 150,000 active users, while PlusGuidance, an online counselling service, has 10,000 users. The US-based service BetterHelp likewise has actually 150,000 registered UK users (though not all are active). Talkspace, another online treatment platform, reports it has 500,000 registered users worldwide, with most in the United States.
Online training recommends therapists on whatever from using emojis to preventing misinterpretations. They also need to secure clients’ individual data– a concern that has actually caused debate in the US, where big online treatment platforms have come under the spotlight.
Buckley said patients need to examine services’ personal privacy policies prior to registering. “Not all online counselling sites utilize expertly trained therapists or comply with a principles policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the very first instance. Just like all sort of services and assistance, what works for one person may not work for somebody else,” he said.
Marc Bush, primary policy adviser at Young Minds, said that while online counselling services are important, “they shouldn’t replace face-to-face therapy with a qualified specialist. If a young adult is struggling, we would motivate them to speak with their GP in the first instance, or to call 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 impossible for the therapist to actually get a sense of the concerns I was handling, as all they had to go from was my typed-out words. I believe I understood after that online session how essential interpersonal interaction was.