Faced with joining a frantically long NHS waiting list…Talk Space Podcast Sponsor Call Your Girlfriend… “I just felt that I couldn’t wait any longer– I was inspired and all set to deal with my concerns and quite liked the concept 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 popularity in the UK. The doctor 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 actually 150,000 signed up UK users (though not all are active). Talkspace, another online treatment platform, reports it has 500,000 registered users worldwide, with many in the United States.
Online training advises therapists on everything from utilizing emojis to preventing misinterpretations. They also need to protect patients’ individual information– a problem that has actually triggered debate in the United States, where huge online treatment platforms have come under the spotlight.
Buckley said clients should examine services’ privacy policies before registering. “Not all online counselling websites use expertly trained therapists or stick to an ethics policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the first circumstances. Just like all type of services and support, what works for one person may not work for someone else,” he said.
Marc Bush, primary policy advisor at Young Minds, said that while online counselling services are important, “they should not change face-to-face therapy with a skilled specialist. If a young person is having a hard time, we would encourage 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 generalised anxiety condition, online counselling wasn’t the right fit. “I felt it was near difficult for the therapist to really get a sense of the issues I was handling, as all they needed to go from was my typed-out words. I believe I realised after that online session how essential interpersonal interaction was.