The pandemic has brought the economy to its knees, left many jobless, forced people to stay indoors in uncomfortable family conditions. And again, it has alienated us from our contacts and routines. All this with a growing fear for our own health and that of our loved ones.
Emotional difficulties, then, are the other side of the coin of this crisis. In fact, following the pandemic, cases of anxiety, stress and depression have increased.
Asking for help improves our lives, makes us more aware of ourselves and our actions, our relationships and gives us the right tools to deal with difficulties.
The pandemic has not only increased the demand for support, it has also changed the way many professionals work, who have ‘moved’ online. In fact, online psychology is not new; it has been around for more than ten years. However, with restrictions, much more has been put in place, and even the most traditionalists have been forced to move closer to this increasingly popular reality.
Psychologist and psychotherapist: differences between the two professions
It is important to reiterate the difference between these two professional figures as they are terms that are often encountered when seeking psychological support.
The psychologist is a professional figure, qualified by a degree in psychology and a state exam that allows him/her to enter the Professional Register. His main role is to promote the well-being of the person, thanks to his knowledge of the human mind and its physiological, psychological, personal, relational and environmental components. He helps the individual to understand himself, his actions and his environment and to implement conscious behaviours. His working tool is the psychological interview. He/she can work both in medical centres and in institutional and corporate settings. The psychologist does not treat psychological or psychiatric disorders. For more complex clinical situations, they work as part of a team, supported by psychiatrists, who are the only ones able to prescribe medication, and psychotherapists.
The psychotherapist is a highly specialised figure in a specific branch of medicine. According to Italian law, the title is attributed to professionals who, in addition to their degree, have an additional legal qualification, generally a specific four-year post-graduate training at a recognised training institution. He is the specialist indicated for the treatment of psychopathological disorders. His working tools are the therapies proven by scientific research: cognitive behavioural therapy, cognitive-analytical therapy, family therapy, group therapy, behavioural therapy, analytical therapy. These will be chosen according to the patient and the individual practitioner’s approach.
Mental health online and the advantages
Online courses can be carried out by both psychologists and psychotherapists. The term includes all interventions at a distance and with the support of technology: from video calls on Skype or Zoom, to voice calls and even instant messaging. This can be organised with one’s own psychologist, without any particular difficulty, or alternatively one can rely on online portals. For some years now, platforms such as Unobravo and Sygmund have existed, bringing together a large number of specialists and making it easy to find the perfect match between psychologist and patient. Even tools based on artificial intelligence have been implemented that can respond to messages from users, a means that complements the work of specialists.
But does online therapy really work?
First of all, it is important to point out that, as a result of the large number of sessions conducted digitally in recent years, it has been possible to carry out scientific research on the effectiveness of online psychotherapy or psychological interviews. And the data collected reassure that this approach works. Moreover, relevant institutes such as the International Society of Psychoanalysis and the Italian board of the Order of Psychologists have spoken out, providing guidelines and practice for structuring the approach.
With a stable connection, a place where one feels safe and free to talk, anyone can take advantage of this modality, which remains current even after the emergency situation has ended, because it brings important advantages.
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