Introduced in the 1960s, cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has proven to be an effective treatment for a number of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse and eating disorders.
Used in conjunction with medication, it also has been found to be effective in more serious disorders, such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. It’s even been used to successfully address non-psychiatric disorders, including chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, and migraines. The treatment is founded on changing thinking patterns—employing more effective problem-solving skills, recognizing distortions in thinking, and learning to calm or quiet one’s mind.
CBT went online pre-2020, but during the pandemic, the practice of virtual therapy skyrocketed. Digital mental health interventions were a critical lifeline for individuals who were feeling more anxious, more depressed, more alone than ever before. And studies have found that the efficacy of such treatments are equal to in-person sessions. In fact, according to REACH Behavioral Health, “when online video conferencing is used, a standard 50-minute therapy session can offer just about the same experience for many clients as an in-person session would because the provider and client can see each other’s facial expressions in addition to audio.”
So, what are the pros and cons of going online versus face-to-face?
Well, for employees, virtual CBT provides access to care that many individuals in more rural or remote areas would not have otherwise. It also offers a level of anonymity or privacy, which is particularly important for individuals who fear mental health issues carry a stigma. For employers, digital therapies can empower their employees to seek help at their convenience. Patients with children don’t need to secure childcare, and patients have the freedom of choosing a meeting method that works for them—whether it’s over the phone, via video conferencing or even within online chatrooms. It also allows patients to seek help from the comfort of their own home, in a more comfortable and familiar setting.
Of course, online therapy isn’t for everyone, and it isn’t without its own issues. Anything held online, for example, is in danger of technological glitches. Some people feel it’s easier to connect with a therapist in person. Others may desire the structure and predictability of a face-to-face meeting, enabling them to maintain a regular schedule of sessions.
There is no one therapy method that is a one-size-fits-all solution for your employees. But by offering digital CBT as an option, you can help ensure more of your workforce will seek help when they need it most.