Psychotherapy via the Internet may be better than face-to-face


People often wonder if therapy over the Internet works. New research says yes. Not only that, but it may exceed expectations.

For the first time, clinical researchers from the University of Zurich have determined that online psychotherapy and conventional face-to-face therapy are equally effective. Researchers theorized that the two forms of therapy were on a par and through their experiments determined that this was so. They also found that online therapy in many ways exceeded expectations.

Two groups, two treatments

Six therapists treated 62 patients, most suffering from moderate depression. They were divided into two groups. Each group was assigned to one of the therapeutic forms: face-to-face or online. Treatment was comprised of eight sessions with different established techniques of cognitive behavior therapy which could be carried out orally or in writing. The online treatment required a predetermined written task per session.

Equal results

“In both groups, the depression values fell significantly,” said Professor Andreas Maercker. At the end of the treatment, 53 percent of the online patients had no more depression while 50 percent of the face-to-face patients were diagnosed with no depression. Three months later, the online group continued to report diminishing depression while the face-to-face group remained the same.

Personal satisfaction also rated high

The satisfaction reported by those who participated was equally as high. The degree of satisfaction with therapist and treatment was rated as “personal” by 96 percent of the online patients and 91 percent of the face-to-face patients. The online patients reported that they were able to go back and reread email correspondence and written assignments which seemed to help their progress.

“In the medium term, online psychotherapy even yields better results,” Maercker concluded. “Our study is evidence that psychotherapeutic servicers on the Internet are an effective supplement to therapeutic care.”

Source: ScienceDaily, University of Zurich


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