More and more people use the internet to look for solutions for their psychological complaints from home. Can you heal online via the internet? In the Netherlands, interapy was the first pioneer in the market. In Belgium, '' made a start with online therapy: both in the form of an online self-help program as in the form of online internet therapy.

Online treatment of psychological complaints: burnout, stress, depression, anxiety, addiction, ...

While a proper medical diagnosis and indication of treatment has to be done by a proper doctor, a lot already is possible via the internet. So your doctor continues to be your help in deciding, together with you, whether your psychological complaint really is psychological, or that it rather is physical. There is not a single internet program which can take this responsibility, which only a real-life doctor can take on!

1. Treating negative thoughts

What you can do online however, is treating the negative thoughts which lie at the basis of your psychological complaints, stress, depression, burnout, or anxiety. If you learn to recognize the negative thoughts which are the source of your misery and learn to handle them, then most depressions, anxiety disorders, burnout, and other psychological complaints can indeed be cured. Negative thoughts can namely lead to a low self-esteem, somber, worried, and anxious thoughts, and many other issues. Internet guidance can help you to recognize the destructive thoughts and to bend them into more useful thoughts. There are techniques for learning this, including methods from the cognitive behavioral therapy and the cognitive solution focused therapy, and mindfulness.

2. Dealing with negative thoughts

You can also learn healthy behavior via the internet. Many of our psychological complaints are caused by unhealthy behavior, such as: drinking or smoking too much, reacting aggressively to stress, not setting boundaries and not having your own back, not being assertive, not speaking your mind, et cetera. Online psychotherapy can help you to recognize and change these unhealthy habits.

3. Changing negative feelings

Furthermore, negative feelings such as anxiety, depression, hopelessness, panic, and many others can paralyze you. Recognizing these negative feelings allows you to practise techniques to change the negative feelings into more useful or positive feelings like hope, courage, energy, contentment, perseverance, ... Many techniques like yoga, breathing exercises, mindfulness, relaxation techniques, meditation, or self-hypnosis are taught in the form of videos.

Therapy under guidance of a psychologist or doctor in medicine

You are guided daily online by a software program which helps you by asking the right questions. Furthermore, you can request guidance by a doctor or psychologist who helps you to tailor your solutions even more specifically to your needs. Of course, this psychologist or doctor only is in contact with you via the internet. That is why we recommend that you still consider your own doctor in helping with the aspects which need face-to-face contact, such as verifying your diagnosis or deciding whether you might also need medication.

Online therapy has no waiting lists

The big advantage is that you can start online therapy at any time. Every day you can decide during what time you want to do your online daily session. The computer is always within reach. We regularly have clients who sign up online a 03.00 at night for the first time, and get started right away. In case they then want extra guidance by a doctor or psychologist, they mention this and they can contact their internal help via e-mail or chat. This person will also see your daily 'homework' and thereby does not lose any time when it comes to empathizing with your problems. If you want, you can work completely anonymously, without anyone reading what you write in your private working folder. This is a choice which you make yourself, and you can alter your decision at any time.

Online diagnostics and treatment of psychological complaints

Every week, you take a short self-test so that you can look at your development when it comes to healing your painful thoughts, feelings, or habits. You receive a beautiful colored graph which visually shows you how you are doing. You can print this graph and take it to your physician, psychologist, or doctor, too.

Do the free anonymous self-test to estimate the severity of your complaints

If you do not follow the online therapy and the program and have other methods to help yourself, you can still do the anonymous and free online self-test with a stress meter. You can fill out this test once, or on a monthly or weekly basis to look at where you are standing. If your score lies in the green zone, nothing is wrong and you are stress-free. If you score higher, in the orange zone, you might want to take action in order to prevent worsening, and if you have a score in the red area, we definitely recommend you to go to your doctor with your results in order to discuss whether you need help. They can also help you to decide whether you are best off with online therapy, with other types of help, or with a combination thereof.

Paul Koeck, MD