23 Jan

posted by Bernadette view other posts from this author

The future of therapy? Online counselling is MORE effective than face-to-face sessions Read more:


The future of therapy? Online counselling is MORE effective than face-to-face sessions

  • University of Zurich found virtual therapy more successful than face-to-face sessions
  • Fifty-seven per cent of online patients completed course depression free
  • Only 42 per cent of cases who saw therapist in person felt better
  • Down to paper trail: online subjects looked over notes from time to time

Therapy traditionally consists of sitting on a comfortable sofa while pouring your heart out to a counsellor.

But in this digital age, online therapy is just as beneficial - if not more so - than conventional therapy.

According to a new study from the University of Zurich, therapy sessions carried out online have become increasingly common in recent years.

Many sites, like and California Live Visit, have created a network of therapists who use instant messages, emails and even video chats to help their patients.

To investigate how effective this method was, researchers asked six therapists to treat 62 patients suffering from moderate depression.

After being randomly divided into two groups, one was treated online - through email or instant messenger - while the other received face-to-face therapy.

Both groups received eight sessions consisting of cognitive therapy techniques.

Speaking about the results, Professor Andreas Maercker said: 'In both groups, the depression values fell significantly.'

Online treatment: Researchers put its success down, in part, to the paper trail it generates.

Fifty-three per cent of those treated online were no longer diagnosed with depression, compared to 50 per cent of those who had face-to-face therapy.

During follow-up sessions, it was found that rates of recovery among those treated online were higher than the patients who saw counsellors in person.

At the end of the study, 57 per cent of patients who underwent online treatment were free of depression, compared to 42 per cent of those who had traditional therapy.

Researchers put the online success down, in part, to the paper trail it generated. Patients were able to re-read the correspondence with their therapist, keeping it fresh in their mind, whereas those who had real-life therapy quickly forgot advice given.

Maercker added: 'In the medium term, online psychotherapy yields even better results.

'Our study is evidence that psychotherapeutic services on the internet are an effective supplement to therapeutic care.'