18:42 GMT21 April 2021
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    Prince William has stated that the mental health of NHS workers could be affected by the pressures brought on by the ongoing Coronavirus Pandemic.

    But are services such as online counselling an adequate replacement for face to face therapy?

    Dr Nick Joyce, a licensed psychologist working at the University of South Florida Counselling Centre gave his views on the matter…

    Sputnik: Does online therapy work just as well as traditional face-to-face therapy?

    Dr Nick Joyce: We’ve done about two decades of research on that very question, and the results have shown that emphatically yes; as far as outcomes go, can I cure a client of anxiety and depression? The format, whether it is online or face to face, whether it is over the telephone, they are all equally effective.

    Sputnik: What prejudices need to be overcome about online counselling?

    Dr Nick Joyce: In our field especially as therapists, we have been trained to do therapy face to face, in a room, sitting across from a client, that feels very warm and fuzzy, and that’s how you do therapy, and indeed when I did my dissertation; I sat down with the head of my graduate programme, and he told me that online therapy would never be a thing, and so on and so forth.

    Fortunately he still let me do my dissertation, which was about online therapy, and I showed him three hundred pages later, that all the research shows that that sort of mind-set isn’t actually accurate,

    There is definitely a deep seated bias from therapists, but there is also a deep seated bias from clients as well, although clients are allowed to have a choice over what type of therapy they want to have, so if you don’t want to do online therapy and you would rather go to an office; that’s perfectly fine, there are lots of people that will provide that for you.

    Sputnik: Will online therapy become the new normal?

    Dr Nick Joyce: I think that it has definitely become more normal, and depending on what area you are in; there are a lot of therapists who are not allowed to, or unwilling for safety reasons to hold face to face counselling sessions.

    Most therapists want to go back to doing face to face sessions, but in my own therapy community, and a lot of my colleagues have had to be doing this now for the last couple of months, and most of them are saying that they actually are surprisingly enjoying it.

    Some of them have now said that they area planning on only doing it full time, they are actually going to give up their office space, so instead of paying all that money per month to have an office, they are just going to work out of their home, and just do online counselling work from now on.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

    psychotherapist, COVID-19, National Health Service (NHS), United Kingdom
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