Faced with signing up with a frantically long NHS waiting list…Talk Space Partnership… “I simply felt that I couldn’t wait any longer– I was motivated and all set to handle my concerns and quite liked the concept of doing so in the comfort of my own house,” said the 29-year-old, who resides in London. After an online search, he discovered a therapist whose profile suited his needs and booked a chat session for the next day.
The doctor app Babylon uses therapy to 150,000 active users, while PlusGuidance, an online counselling service, has 10,000 users. Talkspace, another online therapy platform, reports it has actually 500,000 registered users worldwide, with the majority of in the United States.
Online training advises therapists on whatever from utilizing emojis to avoiding misinterpretations. They also need to protect patients’ personal data– a concern that has 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 use professionally trained therapists or follow an ethics policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the first instance. As with all kinds of services and support, what works for a single person might not work for another person,” he said.
Marc Bush, chief policy adviser at Young Minds, said that while online counselling services are important, “they should not change face-to-face treatment with a qualified professional. If a young adult is having a hard time, we would motivate them to talk to their GP in the very first instance, or to get in touch with a recognized 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 difficult for the therapist to actually get a sense of the problems I was handling, as all they had to go from was my typed-out words. I think I understood after that online session how important social interaction was.