10 key factors in choosing an effective online therapy

There are already many studies that support the effectiveness of online therapy. In fact, online therapy has been shown to be at least as effective as face-to-face therapy, provided it is performed according to a number of parameters.

Today, we have access to many ways to contact a psychologist online (chat, email, phone call, video conference …) but not all media are equally effective. In this article we will explain the most important factors to consider in order for online therapy to be effective.

    Factors That Help Make Online Therapy Effective

    Below we will distinguish issues related to professional, website or psychological practice policy, and patient.

    Important factors concerning the professional

    There are two fundamental factors which concern exclusively the professional. The first is the level of experience he has with technology and the second his attitude towards it.

    1. Experience of the psychologist

    For therapy to be effective, the psychologist must have good management of the videoconferencing program, the patient discharge process, follow-up, payments or the various platforms used to give the patient enough confidence to feel safe in the face of this medium. Security is perceived and contagious.

    2. Attitude of the psychologist

    Due to the COVID pandemic and the fear that patients will return to face-to-face, many professionals have been forced to use the online mode. Some of these psychologists see this as a temporary thing that they don’t like and perceive as ineffective.

    Is the media ineffective or is it the mistrust of the professionals themselves that is the cause? Fortunately, it’s about accepting reality and getting used to it, and many have changed that negative attitude.

      Important factors of the web

      The task of choosing between one platform or another can become a daunting task if you don’t have the right keys to do it. Therefore, here we highlight different factors to consider that have to do with the policy of the professional or the firm.

      3. Means of contact with the psychologist

      To qualify as therapy, sessions must be conducted by videoconference. Two key points are included in a videoconference: simultaneity of communication and non-verbal language.

      Today, there is no consensus among scientists on the weight of non-verbal language in communication. What is known is that this type of communication represents at least 55% of the weight (Mehrabian A. 1972) although some authors even speak of 90%.

      Whether it’s 55% or 90%, what’s important is that if you can’t see the patient’s face, you lose 55% of the information – anything that is said with gestures or movements.

        4. Duration of sessions

        This is another very important factor because the most effective sessions are those that last between 50 and 60 minutes. Today, there are many platforms that aim to reduce the price of minutes and therefore the level of efficiency.

        5. Frequency of sessions

        A weekly frequency is one that provides faster and more effective results. This planning is therefore often used in psychotherapy. When the patient begins to feel an improvement, the sessions are spaced every 15 days (or sometimes three weeks) and finally the follow-up phase has entered.

        6. Autonomy of the professional to choose the frequency in each case

        When choosing an online therapy, it is essential to ensure that the psychologist has the power to make decisions about this.

        Some platforms offer monthly, quarterly or even semi-annual subscription programs offering attractive discounts with the dangers that this entails. Not only is the psychologist unable to space the sessions as is natural, but the patient contracts higher planes than he needs and addiction to the process is generated.

          Important factors concerning the patient

          Finally, in order for therapy to be more effective, there are factors which depend on the patient and which must be taken into account.

          7. Have the right technology and the right connection

          Today, almost everyone meets the conditions to access this modality. On the one hand, you must have a computer, a phone or a tablet and a good internet connection (enough not to suffer constant cuts that prevent communication). On another side, computer basics, such as managing e-mail, messaging applications, and internet payments.

          8. Lighting and framing

          Choose a place to log in that is well-lit. Place the light points in front or to the side (never behind) to avoid backlighting and see the face. The best framing is the midplane, that is, which allows the patient to be seen from the head to below the chest. Lighting and framing are important for getting non-verbal information.

            9. Good place

            One of the benefits of doing therapy online is that the patient can go online anywhere they want, whether at home, at work, in the park, or in the car. But it is essential that these places have something in common: that they be as quiet as possible, in a way allowing concentration in the conversation, feeling comfortable speaking and uninterrupted.

            10. Positive attitude

            The attitude of the patient and the psychologist can determine the course of therapy. It’s normal to feel a little uncomfortable at the start of the first session because of the novelty of engaging in these (so deep) conversations through this medium. But keep in mind that, if there is a predisposition, the human being has a very rapid adaptability. After the first few sessions, patients say they sometimes even forget it’s a video call.

            What about chat, email or phone support?

            Before concluding, we will outline the difference between counseling, guidance or emotional support, which can be done by these means.

            By chat or email, what is done is a process of counseling or psychological counseling. A process in which the patient explains his problem in more or less detail and the psychologist gives him advice on that particular topic. This medium is asynchronous and therefore communication occurs at different times so that non-verbal language and tone of voice are lost. According to Mehrabian Rule 55/38/7, these two components account for 93% of communication. 93% are lost in written communications.

            For the same reason, phone calls are also not an effective way to get therapy because 55% of non-verbal information would be lost. This means would be left to the psychological and emotional support of patients, which consists of supporting the person in difficult times.

            Are you looking for psychological therapy online?

            This article has described 10 key factors in making online therapy as effective as possible. These keys can be taken into account when choosing the right professional and the right therapy.

            If you are going through difficult times and / or need professional psychological support, I invite you to contact me.

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