Confronted with signing up with a frantically long NHS waiting list…Talk Space Clinical Network Intern… “I just felt that I couldn’t wait any longer– I was inspired and all set to deal with my problems 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 found a therapist whose profile fit his needs and reserved a chat session for the next day.
Remote, text-based counselling is growing in appeal in the UK. The doctor app Babylon offers 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 registered UK users (though not all are active). Talkspace, another online treatment platform, reports it has 500,000 signed up users worldwide, with many in the United States.
Online training recommends therapists on whatever from using emojis to preventing misconceptions. They also need to secure patients’ individual data– an issue that has actually caused debate in the United States, where huge online therapy platforms have come under the spotlight.
Buckley said patients must examine services’ personal privacy policies prior to signing up. “Not all online counselling websites use professionally trained therapists or comply with a principles policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the very first circumstances. As with all kinds of services and assistance, what works for one person might not work for another person,” he said.
Marc Bush, chief policy advisor at Young Minds, said that while online counselling services are valuable, “they shouldn’t change face-to-face treatment with a trained professional. If a young adult is struggling, we would motivate them to speak to their GP in the very first instance, or to call a recognized service like The Mix, Childline or the Samaritans.”.
For Rackham, who has actually generalised anxiety disorder, online counselling wasn’t the best fit. “I felt it was near impossible for the therapist to truly get a sense of the issues I was handling, as all they needed to go from was my typed-out words. I think I realised after that online session how important interpersonal interaction was.