Confronted with joining a frantically long NHS waiting list…Talk Space Director Customer Experience… “I simply felt that I could not wait any longer– I was encouraged and all set to deal with my concerns and quite liked the idea of doing so in the convenience of my own house,” said the 29-year-old, who lives in London. After an online search, he discovered a therapist whose profile matched his needs and reserved a chat session for the next day.
The medical professional app Babylon offers therapy to 150,000 active users, while PlusGuidance, an online counselling service, has 10,000 users. Talkspace, another online treatment platform, reports it has 500,000 signed up users worldwide, with many in the United States.
Online training encourages therapists on everything from using emojis to avoiding misconceptions. They also require to secure patients’ personal information– an issue that has caused controversy in the US, where big online therapy platforms have come under the spotlight.
Buckley said clients must check services’ personal privacy policies prior to registering. “Not all online counselling sites utilize expertly trained therapists or stick to a principles policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the first circumstances. As with all sort of services and assistance, what works for a single person may not work for another person,” he said.
Marc Bush, primary policy adviser at Young Minds, said that while online counselling services are valuable, “they shouldn’t change in person treatment with a trained professional. If a young adult is having a hard time, 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 right fit. “I felt it was near impossible for the therapist to really get a sense of the issues I was handling, as all they had to go from was my typed-out words. I believe I understood after that online session how crucial social interaction was.