In short… yes!
There was a time when people would never consider something as private and important as conducting banking, paying their bills, or buying something online. These days, the idea of a paperback “bank account book” seems positively prehistoric. From banking to meeting a life partner, online has become the preferred option for many over the past two decades.
Then it became the only option.
If we were living on the cusp of the digital age before 2020, we’re in full throttle now. E-commerce was already on a steady and swift rise well before Covid-19. The current global pandemic turned that rise to a skyrocket. Now, more and more non-essential and essential things we need and use in daily life are being offered via remote and online solutions.
Some of the most remarkable (and useful) changes have been in healthcare, where tele-medicine and online counselling therapy have blasted the access to these much-needed services wide open.
Online counselling has actually been available for decades, including at NKS Therapy. Despite this people have mostly been hesitant with it, wondering how effective it would be (and shying away from new things, as we tend to do most of the time).
Some individuals don’t have privacy at home or simply prefer the in-person experience, and that’s fine. Understandably, many people are tired of being “online” and simply prefer doing things in 3D. (As providers of healthcare, we have been able to offer our individual & couples counselling services both online and in-person at NKS Therapy).
In other cases, certain aspects of life interfere with being able to attend in-person counselling. Our working world, commute times, and parenting all make for busy lives.
And then of course there were the extreme situations experienced this past year: National lockdowns and physical distancing to curb viral spread.
For those who continue to prefer it, online counselling and virtual therapy offer a myriad of benefits over traditional counselling, including increased flexibility in scheduling (think early morning or late evening appointments, as well as weekends), decreased costs per session, greater choice in therapist, and perhaps most importantly in our busy lives, time saved.
Online counselling can be provided between any two spaces that are quiet, secure and private. This can include a private room at home, a closed meeting room or office at your place of work, a walk in an empty park, or even from a car.
Here’s the big question most people have: How well does it work?
Online counselling can be just as effective as in-person counselling.
In a 2013 study by Maercker et al., “Internet-based versus face-to-face cognitive behavioural intervention for depression: A randomized controlled non-inferiority trial,” it was found that “8 sessions of online counselling were as effective as 8 sessions of in-person counselling.” In fact, they were slightly more effective. Three months post-treatment, “57% of online patients were no longer depressed compared with 42% of conventional therapy patients.”
Can we replicate sitting one-on-one with you with a screen between you and your therapist? Absolutely. In fact, it is arguably the better option during this pandemic, as the wearing of masks indoors prevents therapist and client from seeing and experiencing the full extent of one another’s facial expressions – highly beneficial in counselling therapy.
The other secure option for remote/virtual counselling is by telephone, though most people prefer video.
Online counselling and virtual therapy has now been widely recognized as a highly impactful, convenient, evidence-based and cost-effective option for those who cannot- or prefer not to – attend counselling in person.
Practice management software programs designed for virtual healthcare services offer clear, unobstructed, and secure audio-video exchange, so therapists can see body language, client facial expressions, and emotions expressed, just as they would in person. Therapy techniques that require more space can be facilitated by having clients stand up and step back from their computer screens (e.g. teaching deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises).
At NKS Therapy, we offer both online counselling as well as in-person counselling at 3 locations within the Toronto area. We are now able to support the mental health needs of individuals in other parts of Ontario, Canada, and even the world.
We use a software program approved by HIPAA in the USA and PIPEDA in Canada, which allows us to deliver video counselling sessions with confidentiality and privacy in mind. Our clients can also enjoy the convenience of booking their appointments on our website.
Also Read: The 4 Pillars of Good Mental Health
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been far from anyone’s idea of a joyful experience, one of the upsides has been accelerated advances in technology, security, and our own personal open-mindedness to try new things. It is amazing what we as humans are capable of considering, creating, and doing when we are pushed far out of our comfort zones.
Be happy, healthy and well!