The pandemic has changed how people interact. Social distancing and lockdown measures mean that physical interaction has been largely eliminated. This has affected almost every profession including therapy. Let’s take a look at how therapy practices have adapted during the pandemic.
- Online Interactive
Physical interaction has had to be replaced by online therapy sessions. Pre-COVID era, digital interaction was mainly for those who were not in the same geographic space however this has since become the main mode of communication for those with online access. Therapy sessions are accessible on spaces such as this site. Your mental and emotional wellness shouldn’t be placed on hold because of a lack of physical interaction. You should make most of the digital platforms available during the pandemic.
Online interaction means you can now search for therapists and schedule therapy sessions all in the digital space. Depending on the therapy platform, you can continue engaging the platform up until your session. You can confirm, reschedule, or cancel at your convenience.
The conversion to online platforms has made the sessions convenient. Physical routines such as dressing up and navigating through traffic can be daunting when facing mental and emotional struggles. Online sessions are convenient in that those physical dynamics are eliminated as the sessions are done in the comfort of your home. You can find a comfortable and conducive spot in your home for the best outcome of the sessions.
- Information Access
Compared to traditional therapy services, online platforms give you an array of choices regarding the type of service that you can get. You can choose the times that suit you, preferred therapists and in some cases, the style of therapy that you think would suit you best. You can later change any options that you would have initially picked, depending on your experience. This means that you have control over the progress of your mental health.
In a traditional setting, on the other hand, the therapist has to attend a specific program, where he/she gets to know his/her patients. The therapists set the pace and tone of the sessions based on the patient information.
- Tailor-Made Services
The fact that you as a patient have information to choose from which determines how you experience your sessions, means that the services are tailor-made and client-focused. Traditional styles of therapy leaned more towards the sessions being therapist centred as you didn’t have much choice regarding certain dynamics.
An example of patient-centred therapy that is facilitated by online sessions, is the setting. Traditional settings are determined by the therapist’s office set up. If you prefer to do your sessions laying down on a couch but the therapist’s preferred setting was that of a chair, you had to go along with sitting in a chair. Online services however don’t determine how you should experience the session. You decide the most comfortable setting in your own space.
Online services also mean that patients can extensively choose the therapist of choice. The different profiles of therapists guide the patients to choose based on preference. Some may be more comfortable with a certain gender, age, and level of experience of the therapist. This also makes it easier for patients to switch patients if they feel the need to.
Traditional therapy programs can only be held once a week, but an online program can be offered at any time. This means that you will never miss a session even if you have a busy lifestyle and are unable to attend regular meetings. Online therapy programs provide a convenient way for those who cannot attend regular therapy sessions, as well, because they allow you to make use of the internet while you are on the go.
- Online Tools Provided
Different Online therapy spaces have tools where you can contact therapists or doctors through the mail, app, or text. This has made it possible for patients to get attended to without necessarily having to set up a schedule, particularly in an emergency. Such Online tools also allow therapists to create personalized charts to help patients keep track of their progress and make sure that the therapy is continuing at its best. As there are no clinical sessions involved, the patient will be able to focus on how to improve himself and how long he needs to wait for his next session.
- A More Confident Space
Not all patients are confident enough to face therapists face to face. This means that some people completely shy away from therapy sessions, while others stomach the sessions to get the most out of what they can. Online therapy however gives a certain sense of confidence in that you are comfortable in your space and the dynamic of communicating online is different. A study shows that people are more comfortable interacting behind a screen than in face-to-face situations. This means that a patient can share more with the therapist and gain more out of the sessions.
- On the Go
Regardless of where you are during the pandemic, you still have access to your therapist. You may be in a situation where you need to travel meaning you need to self-isolate. Having access to digital therapy means you won’t be in a position where you will miss your counselling session. If anything, you may need therapy in the moment of isolation more than ever because of the possible mental and emotional struggles that come with this dynamic.
- Facilitates Anonymity
In-person therapy doesn’t have the anonymous dynamic that many would prefer. The pandemic however has made it such that patients can’t congregate in a waiting room, meaning anonymity is facilitated by online therapy. This dynamic encourages people who otherwise were reluctant to attend therapy, to consider engaging in the services. There is no stigma that is attached to being found out as a therapy patient because it’s in the comfort of your space and therapists are sworn to confidentiality policies.
The costs of online therapy are more efficient. In some cases, the fee of service may amount to the same as in-person therapy, and in other cases, the fee is less because of less overhead costs. However, the fact that you no longer have travel costs, means that the costs are less.
- Encourages Client Journaling
Therapists who relied on illustrating concepts on a whiteboard in their office have had to shift to teaching patients how to journal for themselves. This means that as the session takes place, the patient is the one who is now taking notes together with the therapist. In-person therapy didn’t have to heavily rely on this dynamic because of the tools that were available in the office which is no longer the case.
- Less Body Language Reading
Therapists also rely on body language for cues. Digital interaction makes this difficult because one can’t observe the body in its entirety on the screen. Subtle gestures such as facial and hand movements can help, however, this means that the patient has to communicate efficiently to cover for the lack of body language reading.
- Technical Dynamics Explored
Online therapy may sometimes require patience and rehashing conversations that may have been missed. Technical glitches may occur during a session. A screen may freeze or an internet connection may drop. This means that when the therapist and patient reconnect, steps have to be re-traced for each to be on the same page as the other. This may be frustrating however it is worth the effort.
- Flexible Session Times
In-person therapy sessions were from certain hours of the day. One wasn’t able to access sessions in the evenings for example. Online therapy, however, caters to flexible sessions depending on the service you are using. You may be able to access a session early morning or later in the evening. This dynamic works to also accommodate those that will be attending from a different time zone.
- Therapy on The Rise
The dynamics of therapy have since been on the rise because of the pandemic. People were thrown into sudden changes in their lives. Job loss, income pay cuts, loss of loved ones, illnesses, and future uncertainties have caused many to experience mental challenges. The initial stigma that people used to shy away from before the pandemic, has also taken a sudden shift. More people are seeking therapy because of their shared struggles globally.
- Emergency Sessions
There is an option for patients to access emergency sessions because of the pandemic. If one were to rely solely on in-person therapy sessions, one would have to wait days or weeks to be seen. Emergency platforms are needed in case patients may feel suicidal or are struggling to come to terms with the death of a loved, an illness, or sudden job loss; which has been the case in the pandemic.
- Therapist Disclosure
Therapists are also experiencing the pandemic in the same way that the patient is. He or she too may be experiencing depression, anxiety, and uncertainty of the future. Prior to the pandemic, one would never know whether the therapist shares the same struggles as the patient. This may mean that the therapist may refer to his or her own experience with the aim of navigating the space with the patient. Whether this may be intentional or a natural occurrence, the fact is that the rapport between the patient and therapist, is one of the familiar personal situations.
- Two-Way Understanding
Before the pandemic, patients would only get insight into the therapist’s office, and the therapist could only go by what the patient would share. Online interaction however gives insight into a section of personal space. Sessions may be interrupted both sides by children pets, and spouses who share the same space as the person involved. It requires a level of understanding that the session may come with distractions and unplanned events seeing that both parties are operating from home.
- Global Interaction
The global interaction that is facilitated by online space, has made therapy sessions more efficient. For example, a patient who would have benefited from a family therapy session but couldn’t experience it because of members living in various locations can now take part in such a session. Regardless of where the family member is, a conference video therapy session can be conducted. Geographic restrictions have been eliminated by this dynamic.
- Language Inclusive
There are online apps and devices that can translate different languages spoken by the people on the platform. The fact that online services are now global, means that people from all walks of life can access this. The app may come in handy when therapists and patients may be faced with language barriers. Traditional settings would mean having to hire a translator for such scenarios meaning the sessions would be more costly. This means that when language barriers occurred, there would be messages lost in translation. The software that brings together people from different cultures and languages through translation, has made therapy services more efficient.
The pandemic has affected the way in which professions operate, including that of therapists. The pandemic has caused therapy to shift from in-person, to online platforms. This has encouraged convenient scheduling, information access, as well as tailor-made services.
The sessions have become flexible with online tools that you can assess your performance. You can enjoy the anonymity that comes with online sessions, as well as the fact that you can be on the go. You may have to communicate efficiently to express your point and keep a journal.
Technical glitches have to be navigated. Sessions are now flexible, on the rise, and available upon emergency. Therapists are also in the same mental space as patients, there needs to be a two-way understanding of the shifts and the global interaction is an added advantage to how therapy practices have changed. Language differences are also facilitated by different translating apps meaning messages may no longer be lost in translation. This also facilitates better understanding between the parties.