Every day of our lives we are faced with different
challenges. Many of these problems we overcome on our own, but every once in a
while we feel overwhelmed and need expert assistance – someone who can guide us
through the process with the help of therapy.
Most of us are familiar with traditional therapy where a person
is counselled face-to-face by a psychologist. However, with the world of
technology fast evolving, more and more people are seeking help on the internet,
in the form of online therapy.
Online therapy is psychotherapy by a psychologist or any
kind or counselling by a professional, which is done over the internet. It is
done mostly through video-calling software like Skype and text-chat technology.
Read: New media technology used in therapy
Samuel Waumsley, a clinical psychologist at Samuel Waumsley
Clinical Psychologists in Observatory, Cape Town, says that sessions are 50
minutes and follow the same course as a regular therapy conversation in a
psychologist’s office, e.g. an assessment is made, background information
gathered and situation is discussed. Sessions are usually on a weekly basis and
continue for a period agreed upon between client and therapist.
No online therapy in South Africa
Waumsley, is also the founder of www.therapyroom.co.za
a website which offers various online
Asked what motivated him to offer online therapy, he
answered that he noticed there were no specific online therapy website
practices in South Africa.
“Also, noticing the presence of the overseas online industry, I thought it was
likely that there might be a similar need in South Africa for such services.
Since clients are not geographically constrained, they can contact the practice
from anywhere in the country or abroad. More therapy and talking among
ourselves can only be a good and healthy thing.”
According to Waumsley they depend quite a lot on Skype, but they
also make use of Google which has a video chat programme available. In the case
of technical issues or power failure, telephone conversations can be used, but
only as an emergency backup.
“We are also available on mobile which makes it easy for smart phone users to
have access. It’s good to know that Skype can also be accessed via your
cellphone,” he adds.
Rates per session
Payment is upfront but clients can pay for several sessions at once or
individually, if they wish. The system is automated and bookings and payments
are immediately confirmed via e-mail.
“Each therapist or counsellor on the site sets their own
rates per session, with prices ranging between R500 and R650 which is more or
less the same as in traditional face to face settings,” says Waumsley. “Some
therapists may also negotiate depending on a client’s situation,” he adds.
Cost of online
therapy outside of SA
My therapy couch is free:http://www.mytherapycouch.com/
Online therapy is about R3 000 for 8 weeks’ full access to the
desired programme: http://www.online-therapy.com/
Blah therapy is free for community and strangers forums and about R300 per session for a therapist:http://blahtherapy.com/
Psychcentral is also free http://psychcentral.com/
How effective is
The effectiveness of online therapy is a question on every one’s mind but
according to Waumsley there is no reason for concern. “There have been a number
of research studies done on the effectiveness of online therapy, and there is generally
a consensus that it is as effective as normal face-to-face therapy for treating
problems such as depression, anxiety, panic, post-traumatic stress disorder and
Some psychologists, however, believe face-to-face contact to
be more beneficial.
Lillian Lomofsky, an Educational Psychologists of Oakdale practice says she
believes that there are more benefits in to face-to-face therapy, as the
relationship between the therapist and client is more meaningful and possibly
stronger when there is personal contact such as eye contact and meditational
“My reservation about online
therapy is that the transference between the therapist and client may not be so
effective. An advantage, though, is that distance is not an obstacle and also
that the cost could be lower than the traditional face-to-face,” she says.
Health24.com’s expert forum
If you are unable to pay for counselling, it is good to take note of websites
that offer free expert advice to the public. One such website is Health24.com
which has its own forum of experts who counsel clients for free in their
various fields of expertise.
To contact Health24.com’s experts, visit http://www.health24.com/Experts and choose
the relevant expert.
In case of an emergency where you need immediate assistance and support, it is
recommended that you contact one of these helplines:
• Stop Gender Violence
helpline:0800 150 150
• Child and adult social and trauma
support services: 08000 55 555 or alternatively http://www.childline.org.za/
• Alcohol and Substance Abuse
Support: City of Cape Town Alcohol and Drug Helpline – 0800 435 748
• Police Family Violence, Child
Protection and Sexual Offences Unit (FCS): 10111 or alternatively e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Opposed to Women Abuse (Powa) helpline: 083 765 1235 or www.powa.co.za
No single therapy best for depression
Gene therapy to treat depression
(Picture:Therapy from Shutterstock)