The concept of what it means to attend psychotherapy is often anchored in stereotypes, at least among most people who have never attended a psychologist as a patient. The image of a person lying on a couch while the professional takes notes is common, although it is also biased. In fact, nowadays in order to attend therapy it is not even necessary to be in the psychological office.
Online therapy is now a perfectly established reality in countries such as Spain. This is something that professionals like Sandra Bernal Mora know very well. She has oriented her work above all towards this format of psychological assistance , which has multiple advantages, although she also carries out therapy in Valencia.
Online therapy has broken down barriers: interview with psychologist Sandra Bernal
We talked to psychologist Sandra Bernal to get her professional experience with online therapy.
What made you start offering an online psychotherapy service?
I noticed that people have a lot of problems when looking for a psychologist: how do you find the right person and how do you access them wherever you are?
In my case, there were people who knew me and wanted to work out their problems with me. However, distance was the main barrier that limited us. That’s really what drove me to create the online therapy services I have today.
I think the great advantage of online psychotherapy par excellence is the enormous accessibility it provides. Not only is it convenient, but it also allows you to maintain continuity with your psychologist despite changes, moves and other circumstances. Whether you are traveling or living in another country, the people I work with know that they can count on me regardless.
Surely many people can’t imagine how a psychotherapy session on the Internet develops. What is the process like from contacting the psychologist until the first session begins?
It is a comfortable and simple process, since you can do everything by clicking. In my case, through the web page, in the menu &quot;ask for an appointment&quot;, you can select the day and the hour you prefer to have the session and make the payment directly.
Once the session is booked, the person will receive a confirmation email (sometimes it can take a while, as I am the one who will send it and if I am attending to someone at that time it can take a little longer).
As there are different services (videoconference, telephone and chat), depending on the method chosen, access to the session will be different. In the case of the videoconference and chat, the person will receive a link in the email they left when they made the reservation. By clicking on that link, the person enters directly into a session with me.
Are there measures to ensure the confidentiality of what is discussed in therapy via the Internet?
Yes, there are measures for that. As for video calls and chat, they are encrypted from end to end, i.e. the message becomes an undecipherable code, so confidentiality is fully protected.
On the other hand, phone calls are expensive to trace and require a lot of human and technological resources, in addition to the requirement to access communication systems.
Does being able to attend psychotherapy without leaving home make it easier for patients to open up and show their real problems and vulnerabilities?
There are people who have no problem opening up completely from the first moment, but the truth is that there are many other people who find certain things more difficult. Online therapy breaks this barrier. From my experience, it can be a facilitator for the person to get “naked” and show themselves totally authentic much sooner than in face-to-face therapy.
What are the advantages of online psychotherapy that you notice customers value most?
Flexibility, comfort and not wasting time on journeys are just some of the most valued strengths. However, apart from these, the advantages of online therapy are many: from not having to limit yourself to the psychologists who are close to you, to saving time, anonymity through the web and easy access from a phone.
As new technologies develop, do you think that in a few years there will still be more options and functionalities in the world of online therapy?
I’m sure it is. And that’s a very good thing. We have already made great strides in being able to offer different services on the Internet. However, I think there are still many people who do not know how much we can achieve in terms of online therapy, psychology and personal growth with such a powerful medium.
Do you think that online therapy has popularized the possibility of attending psychotherapy?
I believe that online therapy has broken down barriers by offering psychological assistance to people who did not dare to take the step of going to a psychologist, or could not do so because of their geographical circumstances.
I think it’s changed part of the concept of going to the psychologist. Thanks to the ease of access to the sessions, priority is given to what is really important in therapy: the person themselves, their history and what they want to achieve.
On the other hand, I think that a very important aspect is that people end up feeling accompanied in the distance.