With the creation of sites like Talkspace and Cerebral, digital therapy has slowly gained popularity. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this trend, with many people meeting with their therapists in person and switching to virtual appointments. And with the ongoing pandemic, more and more people need access to mental health care. Digital therapy offers the opportunity to meet a therapist no matter where you live or how easily you can leave home. But when it comes to the benefits of digital therapy over face therapy, how do you compare the two?
Compared to personal therapy, digital therapy “does not look the same. It certainly does not, but there is a reproduction there,” says Amy Cirbus, PhD, LMHC, director of clinical content at Talkspace. “I’m not in the same room with you, but I can have this three – dimensional, four – dimensional experience because of the ways I can talk to you.”
Dr. Cirbus discusses the idea with Therapy for Black Girls founder and CEO Joey Harden Bradford, PhD, and Well + Good CEO Kate Spies during its final episode. The Well + Good Podcast.
One of the key differences is that digital therapy is done outside the “container” of the therapist’s office, which means there is much more room for distraction, says Dr. Bradford.
“We are talking about [the office] This is the space that fits whatever the customer brings. There are some things that are essentially lost because customers keep saying, “Okay, do I do home training? Or does my boss send me an email? ” says Dr. Bradford. “People at this point get treatment sessions out of their car or bathroom and, you know, they’re just trying to find a way to have a little privacy, and that’s not ideal, of course.”
With people attending virtual appointments from their own environment, providing some physical separation from their therapists, Dr. Bradford says they may feel more willing to open up.
“You’re here with me, but the screen still separates us. And so you can feel a little more comfortable sharing things that may have taken you a little longer to share in the office,” says Dr. Bradford. “Something else that has played in favor of some of these more virtual types of sites is that I think it allows customers to be a little more vulnerable.”
The experience of word therapy is different when a therapist can not read a client’s body language or hear the sound of his voice. However, her word therapy also allows her to talk to someone in real time while he is working on a situation.
“If you are my client and you are having a difficult day, I will take you at that moment,” he says. “I receive a text message from you, I receive a live chat with you, I receive a voice note from you on your way to work, instead of waiting until next Wednesday for your appointment with me and stating what I have access to just that dot.”
Whether you are seeing your therapist in person, texting him or her all week, or communicating in other ways, it is important that you do what seems right to you.
“It’s been so stressful for the last 18 months,” says Dr. Bradford. “It does not seem to stop soon. And so we have to dig even deeper to make sure we take good care of ourselves so we can get to the other side of it.”
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