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The benefits of therapy through typing

November 13, 2019

Not sure about online CBT? There are benefits of ‘therapy through typing’ that you might not have realised.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has proved to be a highly effective treatment for depression and anxiety, with people finding the experience helpful and positive. As a talking therapy, it’s easy to imagine that the benefits of CBT can only be felt if you’re in the same room as your therapist, interacting face-to-face. Some people are a bit reluctant to try online CBT, concerned that it’s a ‘second best’ option, or that ‘just typing’ won’t work as well.

In actual fact, online and face-to-face CBT are equally effective, and people have the same chance of getting better whichever option they choose. According to NHS figures, 52% of people recover on average following a course of face-to-face CBT, while for online CBT the figure is between 58-62%.

Here are some other myths we can bust about online CBT:

You can’t build a good relationship with someone through writing.

Centuries of letter writers proved this one wrong, long before internet dating arrived. It is very possible to develop a warm and trusting and meaningful rapport with someone through the written word.

It’s all down to something called solipsistic introjection. When we read a novel, we build an image of the characters in our minds; they become people. This same phenomenon comes into play when we communicate with someone online. Whether the image we create of them reflects what they’re actually like or not, this helps us connect with them.

You’re less likely to remain committed to the process.

Actually, the opposite is true. With face-to-face CBT, you see the therapist once a week. With online CBT it’s possible to contact them in between sessions if, for example, you have a bad day, you need to ask a question, or something worked well and you want to share it. Participants tell us they feel their therapist is always there when they need them, and they find it easier to keep the learning and practice going between sessions.

Not being able to see someone creates a barrier.

Our therapists tell us that online communication often helps people to open up more quickly. It’s sometimes easier to talk about personal or difficult things when you can’t see the other person, which often helps the therapist get to the root of the matter much more quickly. You can then start tackling the problems and seeing positive results.

Having to write things down is clunky and clumsy.

One of the big benefits of typing is that it slows down the therapy process in a good way, enabling you to focus and reflect on things as you go. In a face-to-face session, when someone’s looking at you, it’s easy to feel compelled to reply before you’re ready.

Writing also helps things to ‘sink in’. It’s been proven that our recollection of what is discussed during any consultation with a healthcare professional is often pretty poor. It’s easy to forget salient points or misconstrue things. When everything’s written down you can go back and re-read it – consolidating what you learned, and checking you’ve understood everything properly.

Having a written transcript of every session also means that senior therapists can review and quality control interactions between therapist and patient, and provide supervision and support to make sure patients always receive the best care.

Online communication is second nature to most of us these days. We’re used to doing everything digitally – from shopping to planning a holiday to finding a partner. If you need therapy, don’t discount the digital option – there are a number of advantages to doing it online. Ultimately, it will come down to personal preference, and what you’re most comfortable with. Find out more about what to expect during therapy to see if it might be an option for you.

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