The speed and rigor with which technology has taken over every aspect of our lives is unfathomable. It has almost blurred the lines between the real world and the virtual world by connecting two or more people through one medium, even if they are miles apart. Seventy years ago, we couldn’t have imagined this miracle taking place. As miraculous and convenient as it sounds, technology has inevitable loopholes attached to it. As more and more individuals are engulfing into this virtual world of convenience, they are mastering the dual experience of pain and pleasure.
Counseling therapy has been considered a possible solution to mental health issues and the variety of disorders that it encompasses.The power of technology has not left this stone unturned. Several online counseling businesses and applications have commenced their services with the rise in the production, and consumers, of smartphones.
The Necessity of Online Therapy
It is imperative to address mental health issues, as it encompasses a large portion of physical well-being during a sensitive period like the ongoing pandemic. At this uncertain hour, we need to keep our mental health in check, so taking online counseling classes might be a good idea.
Sigmund Freud, the psychoanalyst, claims to have used specific letters to treat his clients, which dates back to the 1700s. Following this, self-help groups started appearing on the internet in 1982.
Hence, it is true that online therapy existed way before the invention of smartphones and eCommerce technology. However, smartphones stimulated the onslaught of modern-day online counseling apps and therapy sessions.
Before looking into the advantages of online therapy to treat mental illness, let us look at a few instances where it is required the most.
Issues of digital stress :
Digital stress might sound like a pervasive issue, but at a magnifying level, it’s repercussions are life-threatening. Hence, it is crucial to look into this matter with an open mind.
The primary cause behind digital stress lies in the unfortunate conversations that take place on social media platforms. In a study conducted by Weinstein and Selman, they identified two types of causes for digital stress.
The first one is elaborated as hostility and cruelty on social media through hate messages or comments and public humiliation on the platform.
The second type elucidates on relationship navigation by close ones. For instance, someone might be texting you continuously, even if you do not want them to. There is no sense of privacy left because that person has all your social media account passwords and is tracking every activity you undertake online.
The symptoms caused by digital stress are pretty evident and aren’t tricky to locate:
- Continuity in their grades falling steadily.
- Random panic attacks.
- Rebellion against any idea.
- Willingness to be isolated from social gatherings.
Do you need to seek out online counseling therapy for treating digital stress?
Sometimes an individual is more cooperative in opening up to a stranger who is a counselor, rather than their close ones. This uncertainty is because they are afraid that they will judge them. However, they know that opening up to a counselor is safer and more effective to derive unbiased opinions and definitive solutions.
Social Media Anxiety :
This disorder is so common that it is almost generalized. However, it is wrong to do so. Social Media Anxiety Disorder, or SMAD, is a serious issue and must be dealt with rigorously by mental health experts.
It acts like a slow poison that eats into the individual’s mental peace, bit by bit, until there is chaotic turbulence filled with hatred and self-pity.
SMAD is a cause of fear by social media conversations turning ugly, which might ultimately end up conferring to self-pity, doubt, low self-esteem, and self-judgment. In recent times, fat-shaming has also taken a toll on the mental health of individuals.
SMAD patients get desperate to maintain an esteemed social reputation online through their posts and stories. They are in continuous need of attention and validation on their cyber activities and cannot handle rejection and denial.
The symptoms may be mild, but if heightened, they might slip out of control and lead to suicidal thoughts:
- Issues with body image due to the worshipping of unrealistic body goals online.
- Continuously checking social media for likes and updates.
- Blurring the lines between the virtual world and the real world.
- Acute loneliness.
- Low self-esteem.
A study in the World Journal of Psychiatry states that individuals who went through online counseling therapy have recorded ‘high levels of satisfaction.’
These counselors go through rigorous training to listen to you and offer solutions that work.
Finally, let’s look at –
Advantages of taking online therapy:
The convenience of undertaking online counseling therapy is of a more significant benefit than face to face appointments. There is no restriction of time because the counselor and patient can interact through messages anytime before or after the online session is over.
So, this means that if you have some unresolved doubts about the session, you can always reach out post-session to inquire. It is convenient from the counselor’s side, because they can take more clients since there are no geographical boundaries.
When we talk about availability, we mean universal accessibility. One counselor can connect to five patients from different corners of the globe. That’s the power that technology has.
Online counseling is a boon for individuals residing in remote areas who did not have any prior access to advice due to geographically related broadband issues. Now, these restrictions are not there with online counseling. Anyone with an internet connection can access it.
Those face-to-face clinic appointments could get too expensive for some people. Accordingly, counseling is open to only the people of the higher income bracket, and the others left with no solution.
Online counseling is a cheaper program, making it accessible and affordable to people with different budget restrictions. An online counseling session can range from anywhere between $30 to $70, depending on requirements and the number of sessions. As opposed to this, face-to-face counseling costs around $90 to 150 dollars per session.
As much as online counseling is positively booming due to modern technology, let us not forget the loopholes that it carries. Always be aware of the platform you’re engaging with. Make sure the therapists have valid licenses, that the platform is secure, and that the program is HIPAA complaint.
Besides that, online counseling therapy has proven useful to thousands of mentally challenged people, so give it a go if you like.
Saurabh Mukhekar is a Tech Blogger from Pune, India. He is also thinker, maker, life long learner, hybrid developer, edupreneur, mover & shaker. He’s captain planet of BlogSaays and seemingly best described in rhyme.
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