Faced with joining a frantically long NHS waiting list…Talk Space Suicide… “I simply felt that I couldn’t wait any longer– I was inspired and all set to handle my problems and quite liked the idea of doing so in the comfort of my own house,” stated 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 medical professional app Babylon provides 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 registered UK users (though not all are active). Talkspace, another online treatment platform, reports it has 500,000 registered users worldwide, with most in the US.
Online training recommends therapists on everything from using emojis to avoiding misinterpretations. They also need to protect patients’ individual data– an issue that has triggered controversy in the US, where huge online treatment platforms have actually come under the spotlight.
Buckley stated patients should inspect services’ personal privacy policies before signing up. “Not all online counselling sites utilize professionally trained therapists or adhere to an ethics policy, so ask your GP for a recommendation in the very first circumstances. As with all type of services and assistance, 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 valuable, “they shouldn’t change in person treatment with a skilled professional. If a young adult is struggling, we would motivate them to talk with their GP in the very first circumstances, or to call a recognized service like The Mix, Childline or the Samaritans.”.
For Rackham, who has actually generalised anxiety condition, online counselling wasn’t the ideal fit. “I felt it was near difficult for the therapist to really get a sense of the concerns I was handling, as all they needed to go from was my typed-out words. I believe I understood after that online session how essential interpersonal interaction was.