Are you considering seeing a therapist? Is the world currently overwhelming, and you feel as though you need some help and guidance getting back on track and on top of things? 

In summary, a psychologist or therapist can be a helpful tool in your mental health toolbox, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Why? 

If we accept that access to a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counseling therapist during the pandemic is essential, how do you gain access to a therapist during this time?  

By answering these questions, let’s first look at the SARS-CoV-2 virus and how it is irrevocably changing the world.

COVID-19: An Overview Of a Rapidly Changing World

The world has been and continues to be overwhelmed by the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. 

It was first discovered in the last days of 2020 in Wuhan, China, where medical professionals noticed a rapidly growing number of cases where people had contracted an unexplained respiratory illness. The Chinese authorities alerted the World Health Organization to the fact that they had encountered the pneumonia-like illness with an unknown cause. 

The cause of the outbreak was identified as a novel coronavirus that had more than likely jumped from an animal host to a human host in early January 2020. The virus, SARS-CoV-2, started its spread worldwide, first to Asian countries like Japan, Thailand, and Hong Kong. It rampaged its way around the world from Asia, into Europe, the Americas, Asian countries such as India and Pakistan, and then Africa.

The coronavirus is exceedingly contagious, and it uses is person-to-person transmission as its primary transmission mechanism. Consequently, one of the only ways to prevent its spread is social distancing. In other words, the only way to prevent the virus’s spread is for communities to stay away from each other. 

During the first six months of 2020, most of the world’s governments enforced a hard lockdown or shelter-in-place regulation where every part of each country’s economy was shut down except for essential services. People were told to social distance, stay at home, and only go out for necessities like food, exercise, and emergency medical care.

The Impact Of The SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic On Humankind’s Mental Health

The effects of social distancing or isolation on the global population’s mental health is just starting to be documented. 

Research studies like those documented in the journal article titled, “The Impact of Quarantine and Physical Distancing Following COVID-19 on Mental Health: Study Protocol of a Multicentric Italian Population Trial,” describes the detrimental effects that social isolation had, and continues to have, on the mental health of the global population by stating the following: 

In particular, frustration, loneliness, and worries about the future are common reactions and represent well-known risk factors for several mental disorders, including anxiety, affective, and post-traumatic stress disorders.”

A second study titled the “Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Adult Mental Health states that “social connection is vital to well-being in humans.” 

And while the Internet and its associated technologies like WhatsApp chat and voice, Skype, and Zoom have played a fundamental role in providing individuals with the opportunity to connect with their family and friends, they don’t replace the need for interpersonal, physical connection. Consequently, a large sector of the global society has begun to display mild to moderate mental health symptoms such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. 

Solving The Challenge Of Seeing An In-Person Therapist 

It makes sense that the counselling therapist will play a fundamental role in helping people get through the global pandemic’s challenges. 

How do you regularly speak with a therapist? 

In summary, psychotherapy is one aspect of the overall health care paradigm that can play a significant role in assisting with mental health conditions exacerbated and caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secondly, it is also possible and successful talking to a therapist using one of the digital therapy apps available on either the Google Play Store or Apple App Store. 

The Pros And Cons Of Digital Therapy

While research scientists and medical professionals do not know much about the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its associated illness, COVID-19, it is clear that this virus is here to stay, for the foreseeable future at least.

As a result, the world has started moving into the post-COVID-19 world; digital therapy is an excellent option for now and going forwards. 

The advantages and benefits of online therapy far outweigh the single disadvantage. 

In summary, as stated above, the pandemic’s biggest challenge is the need to isolate from other people. And while digital communication tools form the foundations to social interactions while there is a need for social distancing, people are social creatures and thrive on physical contact. Consequently, the disadvantage of digital therapy is that there are no face-to-face connections. However, therapists specialize in making their clients feel heard and validated across the ethernet.

Juxtapositionally, The Benefits Of Connecting With Your Therapist Via An Online Therapy App Include: 

  • It solves the problem of seeing a therapist during the COVID-19 pandemic where there is a need to social distance.
  • Traveling time and costs are reduced, making it an efficient and cost-effective option. 
  • Online therapy costs significantly less than in-office therapy. 
  • Physical location is no longer an issue. 

Receiving Counselling Via a Digital Therapy Platform: What To Expect 

Seeing an in-office therapist for the first time can be daunting, even more so speaking with a new therapist via a digital app. Therefore, here is a basic description of what to expect when signing up to talk with a therapist using a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet.  

When you sign up with an online therapy platform, you will be required to enter your personal details and why you feel you need counseling. 

The platform will then match you with a counselor, and you will receive counseling via the app’s video, audio, and chat features.

Final Thoughts 

Counseling therapy is one of the services that has transitioned the most successfully from an in-office model to an online model or a combination of both. This is because seeing a therapist is all about the communication of personal challenges between the individual and the therapist. Consequently, mobile devices like smartphones are essentially communication devices. The two models, therapy and the mobile device go together hand-in-hand.