Prof. Dr. Elke Van Hoof on virtual therapy
Virtual therapy, where does it situate? I agree with te statement, that people are helped by lowering the threshold toward living happier and without any problems, and that this is the main goal. What way of therapy now may be called virtual or not is not important. Virtual therapy is an important building block in the lowering of that threshold.
Virtual therapy a hype?
Oftentimes, words such as 'virtual' become a hype which is more of a fake marketing trick than a scientific question.
Healthcare provision via virtual therapy
As professionals, we want to help people to live the life which they wish to live, preferably without issues on their way such as stress, anxiety, depression, burnout, et cetera. That is our call, or 'core-business', to use modern lingo. My experience is indeed that it is possible to help a certain group of people to help themselves, and give the empathetic therapeutic relationship back to them to some extent. By working for some years on the development and growth of 15Minutes4Me.com, I have often though about the core question: what the role of empathetic therapeutic relationships is, and the question "whether it is a necessary condition" was something I changed into the question "who needs this empathetic relationship, and who does not, in order to heal". In the end, there are more people on Earth who have healed spontaneously, by themselves or thanks to social support from loved ones, than people who we have 'saved' as healthcare providers. This makes one feel humble in this line of work :).
My vision at the moment is that therapy consists of 2 steps: 1° the engagement: deciding whether or not you have the courage and the belief that you can change something about your destiny... And only after that the 2nd step follows: 2° knowing how to take these steps, or to be guided through this with a useful process. My experience is that, people who successfully followed an online self-help program have already taken the first step at the start of this program. By themselves, or with help from others. And this is likely to explain the remarkably good results from online self help. (The median of stress reduction which we reached from 77% stress reduction after 1 month of daily online self-help). We are not working on a way to do follow-up research of these results, in a next follow-up study after one or several years.
Virtual therapy requires engagement
My work hypothesis is that good therapy consists of two steps: first, building up 'engagement' (sometimes via an empathetic relationship with a healthcare provider), followed by going through with that decision to change your destiny (by following a program, or protocol,... whether or not this is guided by a human or a program).
Free self-test for virtual therapy
Would you like to know if you have a form of stress with which virtual therapy can help you? Then click here in order to take a free stress test.
Paul Koeck, MD