Can e-therapy help expectant couples and new parents struggling with anxiety and depression? E-therapy is not new – we just don’t see much of it in North America. It has been used as part of routine mental health care by physicians and psychologists in the U.K. and Australia for the past decade. There is a good reason for its popularity: it works. In fact, reviews of research that tested guided online therapy against no treatment consistently show that it is effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression. A word of caution, though: guided online therapy is the one that is most effective – not unguided.
The differences are important. Guided online therapy includes some form of connection with another person – usually a coach or a therapist. That person usually connects through automatic, personalized text messages or telephone calls, but at times may even be face-to-face. Most of the time, this is a brief contact that serves as a quick check-in and encouragement to continue with the online course.
There are many advantages to online therapy, including:
· It can prevent depression and anxiety.
· It can reduce stress.
· It doesn’t have to take long. Many people experience decreased anxiety, depression and stress in three to eight weeks.
· The effects last six months to three years. Many people find a booster session or two at that point very beneficial.
· Many studies show there is little difference in outcomes between online and face-to-face therapy. However, if you are finding that online therapy isn’t working for you, it’s a good idea to consider face-to-face individual or group therapy.
· Online therapy is inexpensive.
· You can connect to online therapy anytime, anywhere, and most offer computer-based, tablet, and smartphone platforms.
· When combined with antidepressants, it produces results faster than antidepressants alone.
There are some things to keep in mind when exploring online therapy. Check to see if the website or app is secure and HIPAA-compliant. Finally, find out if your insurance provider covers e-therapy. Most require you to meet face-to-face, but there may be exceptions.
Bottom line: Online therapy works for many people as a way of reducing their anxiety, depression and stress. My team is testing our own version of online cognitive behaviour therapy specifically for pregnant women. Stay tuned for more news about our progress.