This fast-growing option for getting mental and emotional support is gearing for a boom year.
Just a few years ago, tantalizing new ideas began to be explored by doctors, therapists and others who aid in helping people come to terms with phobias, and other mental distresses. Let’s start with a simple issue faced by millions of humans - the fear of spiders or Arachnophobia – defined as “an intense – and sometimes irrational – fear of spiders and or other arachnids such as scorpions.”
Traditional treatment for fear of spiders typically utilizes, “exposure therapy,” which means what it says: the person is shown images of spiders, then perhaps progresses to being okay with seeing spiders in a glass box and – after untold hours of such exposure with a therapist literally hiding their hand – the patient emerges with a reduced, if not cured, fear of creepy crawlers. This is all well and good, but is clearly time-consuming and expensive. What if instead, the patient was able to use a VR headset and an AI therapist? Knowing the spiders weren’t real might cause some patients to relax and become acclimatized faster. Add to that an AI system monitoring the patient’s heart-rate, eye-dilation, skin reactions, and other biometrics – while offering soothing professional treatments such as calming music or fear-reduction phrases, etc. These tech solutions could prove to get significantly faster results than the painfully slow “exposure” techniques we use today.
These ideas aren’t fantasy - they’re what’s already available in 2021 and will only improve exponentially. The key will be getting these ideas properly combined and easy-to-use, meaning one could – with a VR headset and perhaps a QR code – get online “smart” therapy anytime, anywhere. This seemingly “futuristic” way of seeking assistance is coming faster than most might think.
Emotional distress is unique. No two human brains express illness or conditions identically. There’s no one-size-fits all for mental health – and that means therapists and other mental health professionals have to do a lot of guessing. But what do they base their professional guesses on? –Previous similar cases that they’ve sorted through and matched to the case at hand. Computers, it doesn’t need to be said, are rather good at sorting through multiple variants and finding patterns. And a computer using artificial intelligence doesn’t mean a computer that’s been given some Adam-like breath of life; it’s simply a machine programmed to learn and improve its learning every time it operates.
Let’s, however, start with what is already easy-to-use and requires nothing more than a laptop, pad or even smartphone. Online therapy is fast becoming the go-to solution for people across the globe. The logic is simple - Why leave your home and go into a perhaps hazardous environment to find a therapist?
Online therapists provide another more convenient means to get help. Simply do a quick search, check their qualifications, see a photo, look at rates and then do an initial session with the therapist over the internet for a fraction of the “real world” cost, and with much greater convenience.
For some who have turned to online therapy, there's an issue of privacy. Perhaps you don't want people to see you enter a therapist's office. Online therapy ameliorates privacy concerns. As mentioned above, a huge issue is fees. Online therapy programs cost significantly less, and – if you find you don't like the person you're talking to or they just aren't a good fit – it's easy and simple to try someone else.
Some readers are likely pondering a few questions right about now. Is it possible for a person online to get the correct “feel” for a client through the internet? Will a patient’s subliminal messages be picked up via a virtual chat? Will the tone of your voice or facial expressions be conveyed well-enough to the therapist? The answers to these questions from the tens of millions of people who have tried so far appears to be an enthusiastic thumbs up.
The field of online therapy has grown dramatically over these past, rather traumatic years. There's now therapy available for people with specific religious beliefs, sexual orientations or other particular needs or desires. Surveys conducted across in the U.S. and around the planet show that people of all ages are experiencing off-the-chart levels of anxiety. Sleep disturbances, feelings of impending danger or doom, stress about their well-being, worries about their finances, depression, feelings of despair, and or simple general unhappiness. Sadly, the same surveys indicate the majority of people feeling these emotions are not seeking out therapists, mostly due to affordability issues, but because of convenience and availability. If you live far out from a main downtown area, driving into town to see a therapist could not only cost you a pretty penny, but also take up the majority of you day, work or home life time that you may not have.
Should you be among the millions who could use a chat with someone who knows how to help, don’t wait for the just-around-the-corner VR or AI solutions. Give online therapy a try and feel better now.