E-therapy also known as online therapy, e-counseling, or tele-counseling, is a type of psychological therapy from a distance. In this, the counseling is done, using different modes of communication like phone, instant chat, email, web conferencing or internet phone.
Usually, e-therapy is chosen when the conventional way of psychological therapy is not possible. It is also used as a helpline where patients can get an immediate help for their emotional issues.
The primary objective of e-therapy is to provide mental help and support to the needy patients who can be located anywhere. Additionally, this mode of counseling is very useful in managing problems where the person does not want to appear in person or the problem demands secrecy and still needs support for some emotional issue.
On-line self help groups were available since long. With the advent of internet it was found to be of great use in distance counseling and secure forms of sharing information and payment were also derived.
E-therapy occurs through the primary modes of communication depending on the needs of the patient and the convenience of the psychotherapists.
E-mail – This is preferred as both need not be online at the same time, considering the different time zones across the globe. Email gives the provision to share other medical details and reports as well.
Online chat – This is instant messaging to resolve the issue, with both the needy and the therapists are available online at the same time.
Web conferencing – This is a video conference when both persons are online in front of the camera and can directly talk to each other. This gives an effect of a real talk and is used when the situation demands.
Telephone chat/Internet phone – In this the person is connected to the therapist through a phone and can hear each other’s voices. Here too, they can directly talk over the phone but not see each other.
Although e-therapy is not an alternative for the conventional psychotherapy, it still has its own advantages. Some of them are:
- Non availability of a nearby psychotherapist
- Problems in meeting a psychotherapist
- The emotional issue is private
- The needy person feels embarrassed to appear in front of the counselor
E-therapy can be helpful for those who have minor issues that can be solved by counseling. However, this e-therapy should not be considered for those who require medical attention. Some people, who are on the verge of a breakdown or possibly at a risk of theirs or other’s lives, should seek immediate medical help.