Faced with signing up with a desperately long NHS waiting list…Talk Space Cabada… “I simply felt that I couldn’t wait any longer– I was inspired and all set to deal with my concerns and quite liked the idea of doing so in the comfort of my own house,” said the 29-year-old, who resides in London. After an online search, he found a therapist whose profile suited 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 offers 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 United States.
Online training encourages therapists on whatever from using emojis to avoiding misconceptions. They likewise need to secure patients’ personal information– an issue that has triggered debate in the US, where big online therapy platforms have actually come under the spotlight.
Buckley said patients must check services’ privacy policies prior to registering. “Not all online counselling websites use professionally trained therapists or abide by an ethics policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the first circumstances. As with all kinds of services and assistance, what works for one person might not work for someone else,” he said.
Marc Bush, primary policy advisor at Young Minds, stated that while online counselling services are valuable, “they should not replace in person therapy with a skilled professional. If a young person is having a hard time, we would motivate them to talk to their GP in the very first circumstances, or to contact a recognized service like The Mix, Childline or the Samaritans.”.
For Rackham, who has generalised anxiety disorder, online counselling wasn’t the ideal fit. “I felt it was near impossible for the therapist to truly get a sense of the concerns I was handling, as all they needed to go from was my typed-out words. I think I understood after that online session how vital social interaction was.