Many people choose online therapy as it fits into their lifestyle – and their way of being in the world. And, in contrast to traditional therapy, it puts the client much more at the centre of things. Speaking from their world, their space, in ways which they choose. And this brings so much freedom to the client
– freedom from the the therapist’s space
– but more importantly, freedom to be themselves.
Free to speak of the deepest, most private hopes, fears, memories, experiences and feelings. Free to bring themselves into a therapeutic relationship in new ways. Which is how it should be!
There is something of great value in going to see a therapist face-to-face (F2F), in a safe, neutral space. And for some, that is crucial to a successful therapy. But it is also a strange idea that the client has to meet in the therapist’s space, in the therapist’s world. And it can be somewhat intimidating and a barrier to being comfortable and open. Not to mention that some people cannot get to F2F therapy.
Online therapy is different from F2F therapy.
No. That is wrong.
It is distinct from F2F therapy.
Indeed, in many respects, it is a new expression of therapy. A distinct discipline within psychotherapy; in the same way that group therapy, or couples therapy, is different. It has its own insights, opportunities, techniques, dynamics and rules. It has its own client group – and conditions that it addresses. It’s not for everyone or for everything.
Nor, indeed, is it something that every therapist should – or can practice.
And it is foolish for even experienced therapists to assume they can ‘do’ therapy online.
It requires the therapist to be specially trained:
– not only in the (crucial) issues of how to master the technology and how to ensure total confidentiality etc.
– not only in the legalities and how to give clients their rights if things go awry;
– not only in how to ensure safety for the client when things get sticky.
No, online therapy, in its different forms, requires the therapist to be knowledgeable and skilled. in new – or revised – techniques of therapy. How to hear ‘the music behind the words’ when done online. How to ‘bridge the gap’ between the two and use it to advantage…
….and, even better, to tap into the deeper continuity between client and therapist.
How to enable the client to bring themselves into the therapy in new, creative ways. Indeed, the therapist has to learn to free themselves from the shackles of traditional F2F meeting
– free to meet the client where they are and how they are
– without losing their independence, their skill-set or their crucial role in ‘holding’ the client and the boundaries to the therapy.
The long-established themes of therapy remain
– but they must be reworked, reimagined – and worked with in additional, exciting ways.
Some things may be lost, compared with F2F therapy – but new things add to its effectiveness,
It is a new expression of psychotherapy – not a watered down version of F2F. And, done well, by a trained and skilled therapist, it offers new (and old!) client groups, new ways of working.
Adrian M. Rhodes,