The benefits of online CBT
In an earlier blog we busted a few common myths around how effective written therapy is, and explored the benefits of communicating by typing – including the ability to reflect during the process, and also to message your therapist between sessions. Online CBT has a number of other practical advantages which it’s worth having a look at.
You can get treatment in the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to travel to attend an appointment, which can often mean having to book a few hours off work. This is especially helpful if you wouldn’t feel comfortable walking into a mental health clinic or a hospital.
You won’t need to take time off work. Most face-to-face appointments offered will be on weekdays between nine and five, when many of us are working. Online CBT can be accessed at any time of the day or night, and also at the weekends.
Nobody needs to know you’re having therapy. You can have treatment discreetly and anonymously, without family, friends or colleagues knowing about it, if you’d rather they didn’t. If you want to, you can tell your GP about your treatment, but this is completely up to you.
You can ‘relive’ your sessions whenever you like. It can be hard to recall everything that happened in your last therapy session one week later, never mind in three months’ time – particularly if you’re struggling to concentrate or remember things. With online therapy you have a complete written record of all the contact you’ve had with your therapist, including every session and any messages in between. You can keep these for as long as you like, and access them whenever you want.
This means you can read back over what you’ve discussed, review your learning points, look for patterns in your behaviour, thoughts and feelings, and check back to see what homework tasks were set.
In the months and years to come, if you start to experience setbacks you can re-read your whole treatment to refresh what you learned and apply the techniques you learned to help nip any potential relapse in the bud.
It’s easy to track your progress. In Ieso’s online therapy platform there’s a section for setting up and recording progress against your goals, which can give you a really clear picture of how you’re doing. You can also view a graph of the results from the symptom questionnaires you’ll fill in every week. If you’re struggling with achieving your goals or you can see your symptoms are worsening you can then discuss this with the therapist and adapt your treatment.
It doesn’t all have to be writing! Face-to-face CBT can involve experiments where the patient practices a behaviour with a volunteer as part of their treatment plan. For instance, if they want to become more assertive they can ‘rehearse’ the conversation they’d like to have before trying it in a real-life situation.
Internet-based videoconferencing programmes can be used in online CBT to provide the same experience, via a virtual ‘face-to-face’ interaction. These experiments can be very powerful! The advantage of using video is that you and your therapist can watch the recording back, to reflect on and analyse the conversation together.
If online CBT sounds like it might be the right option for you, you can check whether Ieso offers appointments to NHS patients in your area here.