And pulling back from my own (fairly low-key) issues for a moment. Better Than Betterhelp…could e-counselling be the answer to the psychological health problems intensifying amongst under-30s? With cuts to psychological health services actually beginning to bite, digitised therapy could be just the ticket for young people who currently filter nearly every element of their lives– good friends, work, sex, home entertainment– through a screen.
Not everyone is entirely convinced that moving psychological health care online is the method forward. “For me, what works in treatment is when you satisfy somebody face-to-face, in the very same space,” says London-based psychotherapist Sandra Tapie. “You are familiar with not only what it’s like to talk to the individual, but how it feels to be in a room with them. Utilizing Skype is the next best thing: it’s ‘good enough’, but it does not develop the nearness, the intimacy, that actually gets people to open up and check out things.”
” I have actually carried out some research into Skype counselling,” says London-based psychotherapist Dr Aaron Balick, “and it’s not the ‘practical equivalent’ of traditional counselling; it’s just not quite the same thing. It’s truly essential that people who participate in it understand that it’s a different experience from being in the room with somebody, speaking in person.”
” In terms of availability, it’s a great start and certainly better than nothing. It’ll ideally lead them to ultimately appearing in the space. Nevertheless, if you’re fighting with relationship issues, attachment problems, or much deeper issues, it’s much better to be in the room with someone. Skype and the internet uses a range from your counsellor that may not be handy.”
In cases of mild depression, the NHS is now directing some patients towards online programs instead of in person counselling, a phenomenon that worries Dr Balick.