As a psychologist, I am always looking at ways to be more efficient and effective in working with my clients. I came across a very interesting study reported in an online publication called, the Science Daily. The article headline was “Psychotherapy Via Internet as Good as/ if Not Better Than Face-to-Face Consultations.”
It is not clear if the “therapists” were psychologists or not, nor the level of training or experience of the therapists. Six therapists treated 62 patients, the majority who were suffering from “moderate depression”. They received eight sessions of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (the approach that I generally use with depression) .
In my opinion, eight sessions is a relatively short number of visits as it usually takes 2-3 sessions to properly evaluate clients and most clients with depression have co-existing problems that also need to be treated.
After 3 months of treatment sessions, 57% of those treated with on-line cognitive behavior therapy were considered to no longer be depressed compared to 42% of those who received conventional face to face cognitive behavior therapy.
On-line classes in education are growing in use and I believe the same is happening with psychotherapy and related off-shoots like counseling, coaching, etc.
In my experience as a psychologist for almost 40 years now, I think there is a subset of people who do very well with structured, distance learning and a number of people who do not.
However, many clients benefit to a significant degree by telling their story face-to-face and being heard by a caring, compassionate individual. Beyond that, the specific methods of cognitive behavioral therapy provide the tools that help clients not only to feel better but to get better.