Text Therapy - 21st Century
It’s 1 pm in the afternoon, you’re not feeling too well. You receive a text message and your phone flashes with a notification saying along the lines of ‘Hi Jane, It’s John, I wanted to see how you were since yesterday, how do you feel now?’
We have learned to communicate in so many ways and this is true for therapy: it is everywhere and technology helped us get there.
So what’s up with that? Why has there become a big trend for text/online therapies? Well in all honesty, entrepreneurs/clever therapists saw an opportunity to deliver new ways of therapy to people unable or unwilling to attend therapy in-person at a therapist’s office. Busy lives perpetuated that trend. It also helped people connect in ways that was impossible before. I mean, how many therapists are there in the middle of nowhere with a tiny population? Didn’t think so. But, there’s people who are amongst that tiny population in the middle of nowhere who need therapy but can’t find it near them, which is why revolutionary apps like BetterHelp and Talkspace have become so popular throughout the years.
Do I know of anybody who has used such apps? Yes. Personal contacts? No. Here in the U.K., from what I have researched, online/text therapy isn’t a big thing (yet). It’s more of a U.S. based ‘tour de force’. But the real question is, how effective is text therapy compared to face to face therapy?
Well, to be fair, some psychologists are in favour of the whole text therapy trend. Dr. Irvin Yalom was a convert to such new modes of therapies. Here in this video he talks about his experiences of such therapies and how it can help people. It’s well worth watching as Dr. Yalom is a world-renowned psychiatrist with great insights.
As you can see, there is future promise of such modalities. However, where does that leave traditional therapy and what about my own experiences of text therapies?
Well, I tried to join apps like talkspace, but it’s a shame they require U.S. based licensure and qualifications in order for me to join. Also, they require at least 3 years of clinical experience, so for newbies like me, it’s impossible to join. Yes, it allows experience therapists to help people, however, it keeps potential talent away with lesser clinical experience too which is a downside. It’s been almost 2.5 years since I first seen clients on a student placement program so perhaps another 6 months will give me that badge of honour? I shall see in the coming months. I am in favour of using such modalities as no therapist would be available to talk to at midnight when you’re experiencing a panic attack or symptoms of depression. There are however some downsides and I think, still gives favour of in-person therapy over text therapy:
Traditional therapy allows modalities such CBT or EMDR (eye movement desensitisation reprocessing), EFT (emotional freedom techniques) to be fully practiced with a therapist in front of you. There are times you will get up and do a physical exercise or as we cognitive therapists like to say ‘behavioural experimentation’ for things like panic or phobias. So online therapy is severely limited in that perspective. Moreover, it’s just easier to demonstrate a technique when someone is in front of you instead of trying to text a concept to a person (translation is lost in words). This of course saves times and frustration. It also allows you to enter the environment of the therapist, away from home, or other such places with which you might have associated problems.
To conclude, there’s far too much variables to take in to account here. There’s many ways to connect with therapists however traditional therapy has the most advantages so far. And unless there comes a time when artificial intelligence comes along to do all the things humans can, why not see me to discover how I can help?