As per the very recent Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it has been found that there are more than 400 types of psychological disorders. Some of these disorders are defined as a ‘disease’ that damages your brain’s cognitive functioning abilities, and that it essentially stems from biological issues. Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are two of the most common examples. On the other hand, there are different ‘disorders’ which also impair your cognitive functioning, but they are the result of various social, psychological and cultural factors. In that sense, they can’t be termed as ‘diseases’. Depression, anxiety disorders, eating or addictive disorders are some such examples.
If you’re someone who is struggling with relationships, stress, emotional issues or other major life challenges, you will most likely benefit from working with a therapist or a counselor. However, you should be cognizant of the fact that many people who actually go to a therapist in person might find it intimidating and impractical. As such, we have started seeing a rise in online therapy companies who offer therapy over the internet. However, with the prevalence of online counseling and the popularity of seeing therapists virtually, there are some people who doubt the effectiveness of these programs. To date, there is not enough data to give a definitive answer on how effective online therapy is. This site details the effectiveness of online counseling. Vice has a piece from a psychologist’s perspective as well. The gist of the argument is that we don’t know if certain forms of therapy, like CBT, will be effective over video, voice or text chat. However, there are some studies that claim online CBT is effective.
Online cognitive behavioral therapy
The first study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal where they reviewed studies of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a well-researched and widely used form of therapy and most studies reveal that in-person forms of treatment are extremely effective. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy concentrates on diminishing negative thoughts, thereby altering the behavior and alleviating the symptoms.
The studies tracked participants for a very short span of time who were undergoing therapy – from 8 weeks to 2 years. Researchers later on found out that CBT could reduce symptoms of mental health issues and depression effectively. In fact, online CBT is way more effective than conventional in-person therapy. Majority of the online CBT sessions focused on providing relief from symptoms and settling short term goals. Because the study didn’t track participants throughout a longer span of time, the researchers didn’t know whether or not the symptoms were reduced permanently.
Online therapy also reduces suicidal feelings
One more study published in JAMA Psychiatry took a look at the way in which online therapy set its impact on the well-being of novice doctors. There are several young doctors who work for long hours, including weekends, and this stress takes a toll on their mental health which often leads to suicidal thoughts and depression. Online therapy, on taking a 30-minute session with a struggling new doctor, could help him regain his lost mind.
More research is certainly needed; however, the results so far look promising. Online therapy seems largely effective. If you’re facing any kind of mental health disorder, don’t hesitate to reach out to an online therapist.