Confronted with signing up with a frantically long NHS waiting list…Reddit Better Help Advertosement… “I simply felt that I could not wait any longer– I was encouraged and ready to deal with my concerns and quite liked the idea of doing so in the convenience of my own home,” said the 29-year-old, who lives in London. After an online search, he discovered a therapist whose profile suited his requirements and reserved a chat session for the next day.
Remote, text-based counselling is growing in popularity in the UK. The doctor 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 a lot of in the United States.
Online training recommends therapists on whatever from utilizing emojis to preventing misinterpretations. They also need to secure patients’ personal data– a concern that has triggered controversy in the US, where huge online treatment platforms have come under the spotlight.
Buckley said clients should check services’ privacy policies prior to registering. “Not all online counselling websites use professionally trained therapists or stick to an ethics policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the very first circumstances. Similar to all sort of services and support, what works for a single person may not work for someone else,” he said.
Marc Bush, primary policy consultant at Young Minds, said that while online counselling services are valuable, “they should not change in person therapy with an experienced professional. If a young person is struggling, we would encourage them to talk with their GP in the first instance, or to get in touch with an established 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 really get a sense of the issues I was dealing with, as all they needed to go from was my typed-out words. I believe I realised after that online session how vital social interaction was.