Although, as a nation, we are experiencing a rise in mental health concerns (one third of Canadians are at high risk for mental health concerns), we are also living during a time of tremendous technological advances. Some of these have certainly impacted us unfavourably, such as in our loss of ability to have conversations with full sentences :) and perhaps has increased our impatience levels. However, there are many advantages as well. During a time of long wait times for psychological services, we can offer the option of video counselling with an often much shorter wait time.
Many still hold onto an apprehension around online counselling and prefer face-to-face. In many ways, there is little that can beat the face-to-face interaction. But, let's look at some reasons why video could be a very viable option by walking through a possible scenario...
Picture yourself at home when you start feeling that old familiar feeling of panic and anxiousness. Typically, these feelings increase in you later into the night. You know from experience, sleep is far off as your mind flips in a thousand different directions. You begin to scroll the internet in desperate need for some help. You discover a counselling centre where you can book online. Click, click...there, you've done something...you feel like you've accomplished a major first step...ahh...breathing a little easier.
The next day arrives and you realize what you've done. How will you ever be able to get out of the house to go to a counselling appointment? You must have been in a terrible state last night to think you could do this. You don't want anyone to see you walking through the doors of a counselling office. You know how it is...you don't judge anyone else who goes there, but it's different when it is you going in. You go back online to look into cancelling your appointment when you see the option of doing your session from home. Well, this feels a little more possible...
The idea of being home, maybe even in your pajamas, immediately brings you some comfort. You decide to keep your appointment, but opt for the video chat. Once again, you are breathing a little easier and proud of yourself for taking a big step.
The time comes for your appointment...you feel a bit nervous, but feeling more at ease knowing you can stay at home. You are not overly technical either, so you wonder if you can handle the procedure for doing video. As it turns out, you receive an email to login for your appointment. You discover the process to be quite simple and suddenly you are face-to-face with your counsellor.
The appointment goes fairly smoothly. Your counsellor handles any technical details and is even able to show you some other helpful tools online by splitting the screen. Although, before the session, if felt as though there was too much to try to tell another person, before you know it the session is over and you are feeling much lighter.
During the session, you realize being at home feels really good...you like wearing what you want, sipping a cup of tea, and relaxing on the couch. This is much better than combating all those thoughts in your head - this time it feels like you are actually doing something with the thoughts. For the first time in weeks, you sleep easy.
Of course, this is all speculative, but it is also all very possible. Although video counselling sounds technical and unfamiliar for some, it is actually almost the opposite. The technical part is already taken care of by those who created the platform for us to use. And, really, we are talking face-to-face...with one step removed...the time it takes to beat traffic, use gas, find parking, and walk through the door of a physical space.
Online therapy still may not be the most ideal substitute for face-to-face for many, but it does have many advantages. It is also a great first step for starting therapy and in most instances shortening that wait time for your first session.