Understanding Digital Therapy
Technically, digital therapy is a virtual method of treating medical and mental health issues of individuals with varying problems. Some of these people turn to digital therapy because they are hesitant to talk to a therapist or psychiatrist face to face. Ironically, some people have been going to traditional therapy but decided to switch to digital therapy because they found it to be equally therapeutic and effective than going to their usual therapist.
What does digital therapy really encompass and how does it work for our best? Let us learn about it through some stories about people (whom we will name differently) who have experienced and have been successfully treated through digital therapy.
Nicole the Actress
Having bounced from one traditional therapist to another, Nicole just switched to digital counseling a few weeks ago. She had been used to visiting her shrinks as much as she could, which was once a month – or once in two months – because as an actress she has a hectic schedule and she also travels. According to clinical psychologist Nina Barlevy, PsyD, “online care is not for every patient or practitioner. Clients with more serious mental illnesses or addictions likely need more treatment than digital therapy can provide. And some clinicians may find certain telehealth modalities difficult.”
When asked about the efficacy of traditional therapy for her, she said, “I loved my therapists. They knew when to let me talk it out, and they knew when to let me cry it out. They actually helped me make sense of my insomnia, depression, and anger issues. But Denise and I had to part because I often flew to London for a few months. Rose was next but that time I had two projects which were overlapping and I just couldn’t squeeze her into my schedule.”
She was desperately looking for another therapy clinic while she was in Hollywood when she came across BetterHelp, an online community that aims to help people understand the whys and hows of mental health conditions. It also contained some content about the surge of digital counseling in most parts of the world. She thought, “This might work for me. There’s no harm in trying.”
There really isn’t. You can remain anonymous if you want, and all you need to join is a security code that sets you apart from the other ‘patients’ that login for their own therapies. “This kind of effort takes a fair amount of commitment and understanding of the online world.” John M. Grohol, Psy.D. explains.
Liz the Diabetic
Her heart would race whenever she’s on her way to her physician to have her evaluation. Her appointments usually distracted her naps and she didn’t want to go out because she was a little overweight and she was easily irritated and usually elusive.
When someone introduced her to an app for diabetic care, she finally felt that she would be able to conform to doctor’s orders. The app contained relevant information about diabetes – its causes and symptoms and preventive measures to slow down the disease process. It also provided medical advice about nutrition, insulin dosage, and other data that would help a person understand his or her disease better.
She attests that the results from her current tests showed a reduction in her blood sugar levels. She was following the meal plans that were posted on the app and after a few weeks, her results were fantastic. She had also tried online cognitive behavioral therapy and said that it was really effective.
We may think that face-to-face therapy is more preferable, but studies suggest that about 57% of individuals treated online were symptom-free after a 30-day trial, and 42% were cured of traditional therapy.
Liz says, “Looking a therapist in the eye across an unfamiliar consulting room when you have something personal to say can be difficult and intimidating. Learning how to take care of myself and preventing my diabetes from aggravating through digital therapy has been one of the best things that happened in my life.”