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Online therapy has helped many people access support during the pandemic, and the once temporary solution is becoming the preferred choice of some UHNWIs.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on many people’s mental health. At Paracelsus Recovery, we saw a fivefold increase in referrals and calls from ultra-high-net-worth individuals (UHNWIs) struggling to cope. To help them navigate these difficult times, we began providing virtual therapy (also known as eTherapy or teletherapy). This includes everything from individual therapy sessions to a full online rehabilitation treatment programme.
Virtual therapy is no longer considered a downgrade.
While it took some adjustment, many of our clients were surprised by how effective virtual therapy is. As a result, virtual therapy is no longer considered a downgrade. Instead, there are some tangible and surprising benefits, especially for the ultra successful.
People often assume that virtual therapy cannot provide the same intimacy as face-to-face treatment. However, numerous studies show that virtual therapy is not only equally effective, in some cases, it has higher success rates. For example, a study in 2020 published by The Lancet found that online cognitive behavioural therapy (eCBT) is more effective at reducing symptoms of depression than in-person CBT. A 2011 study also found that participants in a web-based substance abuse treatment programme had greater success rates than those treated with in-person therapy.
Numerous studies show that virtual therapy is not only equally effective, in some cases, it has higher success rates.
There are several advantages to undergoing treatment virtually that the pandemic has highlighted, including:
Virtual therapy allows people to access treatment without having to sit in waiting rooms or risk others questioning why they are suddenly ‘off the radar’ for months at a time. This makes it a very useful treatment method for individuals who need their anonymity protected at all costs.
Virtual therapy allows clients to access high-quality treatment without having to be in the part of the world where the treatment programme is based. In turn, it allows therapists to work more flexible hours, as they no longer need to remain in a specific treatment centre.
While it seems counterintuitive, virtual therapy often provides more intimacy and connection than in-person therapy. This is because the client undergoes treatment in their own home, a familiar environment that is comfortable and calming. All of these emotions work to decrease stress or fear and increase the ability to connect.
When someone suffers from depression, there can be days when it is too hard to get dressed and leave the house. Normally, this would lead to them cancelling a therapy session. Now, they can get the support they need in those difficult moments on their laptop.
By making virtual therapy the norm, UHNWIs have access to the best possible treatment programmes and professionals in the world. We are no longer restricted by boundaries or borders, which means those in need can benefit from the highest quality care and the most specialised treatment at any time.
As more of our lives move into the virtual space, therapy will undoubtedly follow. Nonetheless, it is important to remember virtual therapy is not always the right solution. It comes with challenges such as data protection and it cannot always provide the necessary level of crisis intervention. For instance, if someone feels acutely suicidal then in-person support is key.
But, it is fantastic that virtual therapy has been such a success and provides another way for people to access support. If you have not experienced it yet, now is the perfect time to give it a go.