In the 12 years (almost to the day) since the iPhone was released the options for additional support with “daily life” have become endless.
There are apps to tell you how to sleep, count your steps, prompt you to take a screen break, and book in your favorite fitness class no matter where in the world you are.
Personalization has been a prominent theme in the wellness industry and one that is predicted to continue to grow. The Global Wellness Summithighlighted the personalization of nutrition and the growing strands of meditation as key trends in its 2019 report.
Technology, along with the improved range of wellness options has increased this ability for people to take more control over how they want to feel in their lives—including the full spectrum of physical through to emotional and mental health needs. With this change across the sector, it was only a matter of time until therapy became more accessible too.
Once considered a taboo subject (and arguably with plenty more work to be done) the popularisation of therapy and counseling has increased through its public visibility, from TV shows and movie portrayals to celebrities speaking out more about mental health issues.
Yet still, even with the perceived historical stigma aside, there have been other barriers such as cost, location, and accessibility with many therapists based in populated city centers and unable to provide support to more isolated or vulnerable people.
Which is why the advent of online therapy, which harnesses technology to provide traditional therapy sessions, is a big deal.
BetterHelp, which was founded in 2013, has led the transformation of the sector and is now considered one of the world’s leading online platforms for therapy.
Initially launched as a messaging-based service only, it now also includes options for video conferencing, live chat, and phone sessions. While (for now) their therapists are all based and licensed in the U.S., clients come from anywhere in the world.
While there were some initial concerns about delivering therapy online—as is the case with most new innovations—the service has gained traction and studies continue to show its effectiveness.
Dr. Sonya Bruner, a licensed clinical psychologist and a BetterHelp counselor since 2015, says online therapy is a particularly popular choice for anyone looking to improve their quality of life and may be experiencing challenges that aren’t necessarily affecting their daily functioning. This could include things like phase of life issues through to generalized anxiety and depression.
The growth and innovation across the health and wellbeing sector are evident with many comparable businesses emerging, including TalkSpacewhich also has a focus on organizational health, and Babylon Health, a U.K. based service which also includes access to GPs and Specialist Doctors and is Care Quality Commission registered.
Try before you buy
With their extensive network, including a wider range of specializations and therapeutic approaches, Dr. Bruner says services like BetterHelp are able to move clients around easier to different therapists until the right “fit” is found. An unintended consequence has been that the therapists themselves have developed a strong peer network and have been able to refer clients on for more niche needs, giving clients much easier access to the right fit at the right time.
Flexibility for busy lifestyles
Growing lifestyle demands, coupled with work schedules, school picks, and drop-offs, let alone things like physical access issues (such as living in a remote area) makes online therapy a versatile option. Many of the platforms allow multiple ways to connect with your therapist, including video, on-the-go texts, or phone calls.
Dr. Bruner says this has been a helpful, added value, as it keeps the core issue clients want to discuss “top of mind”. In her private practice previously she’s found some clients arrive at the session and may have forgotten the main challenge they wanted to raise because it wasn’t captured in the moment.
Emotions just as important as physical health
Now that the stigma is relaxing, those who used to worry that their “problem is not serious enough” may be more likely to reach out for support. Options like online therapy give people a way to essentially dip their toe in the water and get a feel for what it’s like.
Studies continue to highlight the importance of mental health and the mind-body connection. Indicating that the more proactive an approach to mental health, the more people are able to combat stress, cope with difficult times and increase their happiness.