In recent decades, advances in the generation of new technological systems and the implementation of new information and communication technologies (ICT) It has seen a great acceleration in society, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, increasing this acceleration exponentially, changing our lives with exciting new possibilities and consolidating ICT as a form of alternative, and sometimes unique, interaction.
Psychology, as a science in continuous progress, is not left behind in this revolution, making Telepsychology or Online Psychologypriority development
Many people today prefer telepsychology because it is accessible from virtually anywhere in the world, from home and with more privacy. However, many other people are still suspicious and doubtful.
Concept and brief history of telepsychological care
Telepsychological assistance or intervention covers almost all activities in psychology (psychoeducation, counseling, assessment, psychotherapy process, etc.). However, this is not a new specialty, although it requires psychology professionals to expand our technical skills and adapt our services to clients remotely, via digital media.
Furthermore, the concept covers not only therapy sessions or psychological help via videoconference, but It also includes other remote and internet activitiessuch as emails, instant messaging, blogs, apps, structured web interventions, which are programs for change or educational purposes developed on a platform, or therapeutic software and artificial intelligence technologies, such as diagnostic systems, therapeutic robots, virtual reality, etc.
Although it may seem that the use of TelePsychology is relatively recent, one can find historical references representative for more than a century, including:
- Between 1887 and 1904, Sigmund Freud communicates by correspondencerecording the process of inquiry and the tribulations of self-analysis with Wilhem Fliess, German physician, psychologist and biologist with whom he worked on discoveries in the field of their respective theories, Freud’s psychoanalysis and Fliess’ pansexualist .
- Sigmund Freud, in 1909, also published what is called the “Juanito case”, an analysis of the phobia of a five-year-old boy. made on the basis of a communication with his father.
- In the 1950s, it was implemented to help the Nebraska Psychiatric Institute provide tools and patient care to a variety of people.
- In 1967, François Dolto, a famous French pediatrician and psychoanalyst for his discoveries in child psychoanalysis, received questions about various aspects of childhood, which he answered on a French radio program.
- However, the term “TelePsychology” was not used until 1973 by Wayne Walter Dyer, an American psychologist and writer, although without much impact.
- It is from the year 2000 that online psychology begins to be used more frequentlyto publish studies on its effectiveness and to draw up the first guidelines for action.
- And as we already know, with the pandemic crisis situation by COVID-19 and the important advance of ICT, the use of TelePsychology is experiencing an exponential and unstoppable increase.
At present, the professionals we offer in our Online Psychology services largely respect the practices and recommendations defined in the scientific protocols and guidelines.
Main advantages and disadvantages
Among the advantages and reasons that we can find in online psychology treatments, we can mention the following.
- Its accessibility: beyond the comfort, safety and tranquility of conducting sessions from home, it facilitates access to groups that may have difficulty attending in personsuch as young people, people in a situation of functional diversity or with reduced mobility, rural or foreign territories, travel, etc.
- Increased cost effectiveness and efficiency: It has these advantages over face-to-face mode as it reduces travel time and expense.
- The possibility of maintaining regular and continuous contact in cases where this is not possible in person promotes the maintenance of regularity and follow-up. For example, with people who travel frequently, in the event of unforeseen events, mild illness, etc.
- In some cases, this can be an excellent alternative to accessing initial psychological help. For example, for people with social anxiety or agoraphobia.
- It can foster a deeper understanding of the client’s environment.
- Better availability of information. Access to history, test results, etc. is quick and easy for professionals and customers.
- Likewise, technological facilities allow us psychologists greater exchange of informationand improved recording and analysis of information collected.
On the other hand, among the disadvantages and limitations that we can find:
- The inequality between usersbecause the technologies are not used in the same way by many groups, such as the elderly or in certain areas with Internet connection problems.
- There are more difficulties in attending a people in crisisbecause it can be an intervention involving more risks if these are not foreseen.
- The flow of sessions can be affected by a reduced ability to assess the client’s body language, by technical problems or by his own distraction.
- Because of possible legal, ethical and informational difficulties, professionals have a duty to expand our training and qualification. In addition, the fact that customer information is available through different means increases the risks and the need for information protection.
Efficiency, quality and convenience for customers
Telepsychological interventions are more and more numerous empirical support. Controlled trials and meta-analysis studies show the generation of behavioral changes for a wide variety of problems, finding similar efficacy to face-to-face psychological interventions, without finding significant differences in perceived quality of life, satisfaction and the credibility of the treatment.
In addition, for customers, the process is very simplebecause you only need an internet connection, a device with camera and microphone (computer, tablet or smartpnone) and an email to receive documentation, links and security keys, quizzes, exercises, etc.
It is also recommended to choose a space for the online session with a well-lit, pleasant, comfortable environment and to avoid possible interruptions, as well as good image and sound quality. In addition, you can always consult your psychologist, both on technical and legal aspects.
The most important thing is to make sure that you choose a psychology professional with the best experience, training and qualification to treat your health, well-being and quality of life needs with the maximum guarantees and results.