In this time of crisis, looking after our mental health is more important than ever, but can remote therapy replace face-to-face sessions? Michelle Heffernan speaks to therapists and users about the pros and cons.
'I remember when lockdown was announced, I thought, 'I am going to go insane!'" says Martina Collender, writer and playwright from Waterford. "I was seeing a counsellor for anxiety, depression, paranoia, and eating disorder issues," says the 29-year-old, who has been confined to her family home for the last few weeks. "I am so grateful my therapist could adapt his service and be there for me during this time."
Martina is just one of several persons accessing virtual support to manage her mental health. "Working online can be just as meaningful as face-to-face therapy" says Clinical Psychologist Dr Claire Hayes. "I am delivering online therapy for a number of years and I find it very effective".
Dr Hayes specialises in the treatment of anxiety and finds that her therapeutic methods lend well to online video sessions. "One of the key aspects of my work is psycho-education" says Dr Hayes, "in other words, explaining what anxiety actually is. Online therapy can also be used to deliver relaxation exercises or work on visualisations. To be honest, I sometimes forget that the person isn't physically in the room." Dr Hayes is dealing with the same issues as always in both old and new clients; primarily depression, anxiety, and stress. She acknowledges that online therapy may not be the best option for a person experiencing psychosis, or paranoia, for example, but it is still worth opening the conversation with someone online to find out the best option for help.
I can offer counselling through video link or telephone.