It’s an exciting time to be a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. The traditional therapy room is getting a makeover and the landscape around the delivery of CBT is changing. The incorporation of digital platforms is giving clients more choice and flexibility than ever before. People can access the support they need from the comfort of their own home at a time that suits. I’m certain this means a more creative and individually tailored CBT is on its way.
Delivering Therapy Online – Pros & Cons
The landscape around the delivery of CBT is constantly evolving and bringing new possibilities. Expanding how we deliver CBT creates the opportunity for earlier intervention, prevention and resilience training. One of the key benefits of digitally delivered CBT is its ability to improve access by reducing geographical barriers, travel costs and estate costs. It can be more convenient for clients and therapists alike. Research indicates client satisfaction and therapeutic alliance is at a similar level in both digital and face-to-face sessions.
However, there are limitations that arise on digital platforms. It’s your responsibility to look at reducing and minimising these throughout the key stages of the CBT process. Here are some tips to get you started…
6 Tips to Help You Deliver Therapy Online
- Be Prepared
The first step when working across digital platforms is to spend time setting up adequately. A few things you will want to consider are what platforms do you and your client have access to? What are you both most comfortable using? Discuss connectivity and data protection. Will you record sessions or not and how will this be stored ensuring privacy?
- Have a Back-Up Plan
Having a robust back-up plan is essential when working digitally. Consider and discuss with your client what will happen if the platform fails or connectivity is lost. This will smooth out ruptures in the therapeutic process and reduce everyone’s stress levels. Include a step-by-step plan in the therapy contract and review it along the way.
- Collaboration is Key
One of the guiding principles of good CBT is collaboration. Working across platforms is an opportunity to promote collaboration and active engagement in the process. Don’t feel like you need to do all the work in preparing and organising. Working things out together will set the tone for therapy going forward.
- Ramp Up the Energy
A criticism of digital platforms is that they can dampen down the energy of a session. As the therapist, it’s your job to work on generating more energy when needed through being creative and keeping the momentum going. This can be tiring so extra self-care may be required.
- It’s More Than the Hour
We know the more people do in-between CBT sessions the more effective treatment is. Digital platforms provide us with better accessibility than ever before for notetaking, audio notes, video or access to apps to rate our moods. People now have a computer in their pocket most of the time so it’s easier than ever to keep in touch in between sessions to report back on homework tasks and maintain accountability.
- Keeping the Silences
Have your pausing statements at the ready. In each CBT session, there will be moments of new learnings and realisations. Silences and space are an important part of consolidating the learning. Getting used to silence in sessions is good preparation for remote exposure work.
Find Out More
If you’re ready to dive in and start delivering therapy online, I’ve created a free guide just for you. It goes into more detail on the points above and includes a checklist to keep you on track. I’ve also contributed a chapter to the book, Digital Delivery of Mental Health Therapies: A Guide to the Benefits and Challenges, and Making it Work.