Distance therapy (whether you are in another city, or all the way over to India or Singapore) is a new type of therapeutic approach in psychology, and it is made possible by the presence of the many distance-bridging communication technologies we have available to us today. It would have been difficult before, when these technologies were not around: one can only imagine the difficulties of attempting to conduct a therapeutic session via letter exchange during the days when letters could take months to arrive at their destination, or perhaps via telegram for a faster albeit rather more curt communication method between the two participants. Nowadays, though, we have such means as the Internet, instant messaging, SMS, cellphone calling, email, and more that make the process easier.
“Easier” is of course the key word: it does not necessarily mean that distance therapy is easy. Of course, this may be said of all types of psychotherapy. Difficulty and conflict, in fact, might be argued to be at the heart of all psychotherapy sessions. The real question that concerns many people, though, is whether or not there is more difficulty in distance therapy than in traditional (face to face absent the computer screen) therapy.
Given that psychotherapy is essentially a communicative process between two persons that does not in and of itself require physical contact (emotional contact, perhaps, is a better expectation here), distance therapy is more or less the same as traditional therapy for most people—only mediated by a computer screen or, in some cases, by the phone. The results, therefore, are arguably the same as those found in traditional therapy, and many therapists who have practiced both, such as Joseph Burgo, say so.
This is speaking from a general perspective, of course: it cannot be denied that there will be cases where the medium of communication may alter the results in some way by having an effect on the patient-therapist relationship. Some people, for instance, find their communication changing depending on the medium in which they interface with another. Face-to-face interaction may change a person’s level of truthfulness, for instance, or his guardedness in the presence of the therapist. That having been said, it is the therapist’s task—as well as the client’s—to overcome hurdles such as lack of openness, defense mechanisms, and the like, regardless of whether or not the session is conducted face to face.
Try the sites below to understand what distance therapy is and how it may differ from or even be similar to the traditional face-to-face approach in psychotherapy.