Do you often feel sad, fatigued, and lacking motivation or self-confidence? A lot of people, one in five, at some point in their lives experience these and other symptoms of depression. Working on your depression with the help of a mental health professional is the best way to start making a change for the better and improve your well-being.
There are numerous people who suffer from depression but cannot attend face-to-face therapy sessions, due to health reasons, busy schedules, fatigue, or a lack of motivation. In this article you’ll find out why Online therapy for depression is a very promising avenue to take if you want to make a change from the comfort of your home or office.
What is Online Therapy for Depression
Online therapy for depression uses the same principles of in-person therapy and brings them to the online world. There are many different approaches used to treat depression, including CBT, psychodynamic and person-centred approaches. The good news is that they are all easily adjustable to the online medium of communication.
What to Expect from Online Counselling for Depression?
You can expect the following from online counselling for depression:
- A safe, warm and confidential space to express your difficulties
- An empathic and non-judgemental understanding of your struggles
- An understanding of where your depression might come from
- Learning how depression affects work, relationships and leisure time
- Alleviating stress
- Coming up with new ways to act and start feeling better
- Learning how to recognise early signs of when your depression is increasing
You can also expect to notice significant improvements after 10 sessions of online depression therapy. However, in more severe cases, more time and therapeutic work might be needed. The therapy will always be tailored around your specific, unique needs.
Does Online Therapy for Depression Work?
Yes it does work. For example, numerous research confirmed that online CBT can successfully help people struggling with depression, leading to decreased symptoms and greater quality of life , for both adults and a younger population .
What are the Benefits of Online Therapy for Depression?
Here we’ll focus on general benefits, and in a separate section we’ll address the specific advantages of online depression therapy:
- Greater insight into the dynamics of your depression.
- Improving self-empathy, reducing self-criticism.
- Improving your overall well-being.
- Reduced symptoms of sadness and increased mood.
- Improved self-confidence.
- Removing the barriers to your motivation and self-development.
- Less fatigue and more energy for both work, relationships and leisure activities.
- Better sleep.
- Learning more functional coping mechanisms; not relying solely on medication.
Online Therapy for Depression Sessions: How Do They Look?
Online sessions are scheduled in advance, much like face-to-face sessions. Usually, they involve a video connection between you and your therapist, as this allows for the exchange of nonverbal information which is extremely important. Audio only is ok, but we encourage clients to turn on their camera during the online sessions, if possible.
Once everything’s working fine, the internet and your devices are working, the session moves on as it would in the face-to-face version.
Here’s a rough idea of how online sessions might be structured:
Usually, the first few minutes are more casual and serve as an introduction to the “middle” part of the session, which takes the most time and where you and your therapist are discussing a particular issue, giving it a new perspective or finding solutions. The online session may end with a summary wrapping-up what you covered and, for example, encouraging you to start applying what’s been discussed in between sessions.
Online CBT for Depression
Here we’ll focus on an example of Online Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) for depression. CBT understands depression as caused by irrational beliefs manifesting in various areas of our life.
Believing that “Everyone is better than me”, “I’m worthless.” or ‘I’m unlovable”, can significantly affect your daily life. For instance, by making you unwilling to speak up in a discussion, or feeling uncomfortable expressing your needs to your partner or coworker, because you feel you don’t deserve this. These dysfunctional beliefs may also cause you a hard time focusing on work because you believe that, being not good enough, it’s not worth the try.
After agreeing on the most important issue to work on, your therapist might ask you to write down (e.g. in an online shared document) some of the negative thoughts you have about yourself, others, and the world, as they emerged in a particular situation of distress. In this respect online counselling is very convenient as you can write down, save and share everything you need easily, while the session lasts and of course later, whenever you want. Both you and your therapist can then use that shared document (and others if needed) to build on your work together and tackle the difficult thoughts fuelling your depression.
CBT for depression also includes techniques such as diaries, homework (e.g. observing your negative thoughts and writing down more positive alternatives), activity scheduling, experiments, etc. They all use some kind of forms or templates, which are much more easily shared online, via email or in a shared folder, to keep track of your progress.
What are the Advantages of Online Therapy for Depression?
We’ll focus here on specific advantages of doing remote counselling for depression:
Reaching People with Fatigue and Low Motivation
Depression can involve feelings of fatigue, low energy, and low motivation. It may be hard to motivate yourself to meet a therapist in person weekly, especially if your therapist is far from you. Online therapy can reach you even if you struggle with motivation. It requires very little effort, no transportation and little preparation. Keep in mind that having to talk to your therapist in-person also has its good sides as it can combat inactivity.
Reaching People with Busy Schedules
A lot of people who suffer from depression are still able to go to work but may have no time (or energy) to go and meet a therapist in-person. It can be a bit tricky getting to fit weekly therapy sessions in an already-tight schedule. Online therapy can be arranged at almost any time and from anywhere (including your office), unlike face-to-face therapy sessions.
Reaching People with Health Issues
You may have concerns about COVID-19; perhaps you’re feeling unwell or have a chronic illness which makes it hard for you to visit a therapist each week. In these cases, online therapy can be a great solution, removing any health-related barriers and allowing you to see your therapist from the comfort of your home.
Making Childcare Easier
Taking care of your children is no small responsibility, it requires a lot of time and energy. Childcare can make it virtually impossible for you to physically meet your therapist every week. Online therapy instead allows you to see your therapist from home, requiring someone else to watch your children only for the time of your session. Online therapy still demands focus and a quiet and private room. Make sure to let others in the house know you should be left undisturbed for an hour.
Reaching People with Self-Confidence Issues
Depression often comes with low self-esteem and confidence. This can make it stressful to meet new people as you might feel uncomfortable around them. If this is your case, online therapy can make the first step – meeting your therapist – easier, while making it less stressful to establish the therapeutic relationship with your therapist.
Tips to Prepare for Online Depression Therapy
- Make sure everything works well on the technical side. The internet connection is of course crucial so it would be good to always check the strength and stability of your signal before starting an online session. Check your microphone, camera, laptop, anything you’re using, before the online session starts. This way you’ll make sure that your sessions revolve around you, and not around technical issues. Moreover, it’s always good to have a backup option, such as using your phone (or its mobile network) as backups if something goes wrong.
- Assure privacy–psychotherapy should be kept private. While the online modality gives you freedom to have online sessions everywhere you want, you shouldn’t do online sessions from a restaurant, bar, in public transport, etc. Find a quiet, private and comfortable room which can stay that way for an hour.
- Remove distractions–the comfort of doing everything from your home or office is a big advantage. However, it is important to remove distractions. Switch off or silence your phone’s notifications. Let your partner, housemates, children or friends know when you’re having therapy so that you can be left undisturbed. The same goes for receiving packages, or getting a call from your loved ones. If you’re at work, make sure to find a room no one else is going to use to guarantee your privacy.
- Think about what you want to work on–make a note of the most important issues you would like to talk about with your therapist, and feel free to share your list with them during your online sessions.
Alleviating Depression with Online Counselling
Depression is one of the most widespread psychological issues. However, not all people get the help they need. Online therapy is a promising pathway which allows you to get the help you need from a qualified therapist without having to travel to a consultation room. While online therapy may be a valid option for many, for some it may be a necessity, for instance if you’re unable to attend face-to-face therapy because you’re busy, live far from your therapist, or have health conditions preventing you from travelling. Online therapy is also ideal for people who want an occasional online consultation for depression, without having to change their in-person therapy routine drastically.
Here at Therapy Central, we have qualified therapists that specialise in online therapy for depression. Contact us for a free 15-min consultation to see if our help would fit your needs and read more about Depression Counselling.