A study carried out by the Eindhoven University of Technology shows that online therapy sessions work well in many cases. That’s contrary to expectations.
Many therapists were reluctant to do treatments via video calls. “They’re concerned about technical problems. They also expected virtual contact to affect the quality of treatment”, researcher, Milou Feijt, says. “They often find these kinds of means are forced on them by insurers or management to save costs too.”
The corona crisis forced many therapists to have video contact with their clients. It turned out that many of their prejudices were incorrect. Feijt and her fellow researchers spoke to 51 therapists and their clients about their experiences. They had been consulting in this way since 1 April.
The sessions were often more efficient, and the conversations more substantive. The accessible nature of video calls also meant therapists and clients were able to speak to each other more often and for shorter periods. That benefited the therapeutic relationship.
According to the therapists, their clients were also predominantly positive. Some of them benefited from the remote therapy because they felt less inhibited to express themselves.
Online sessions don’t just have advantages. For example, therapists and clients had to deal with technical problems such as faltering internet connections. Other difficulties were related to the loss of non-verbal communication. Vital signs, such as posture, hand movements and smell, were lost.
Remote therapy also proved to be less suitable for treating trauma and for people with psychotic or social anxiety complaints. Sessions with children and groups also worked less well via online therapy.
Feijt doesn’t think online therapy will become the norm. “We believe more in combined care. We use both physical encounters and online elements. It depends on the need and situation.”
Editor: Melinda Walraven