One of the perks of living in a digital age is that everything is accessible from the palms of our hands, even therapy it seems. Long gone are the days when people would slink on the therapist's sofa, tearfully narrating all their life’s problems. Currently, there a number of apps which claim to offer therapeutic services, substituting or in some cases supplementing the traditional face-to-face therapist - client contact, and are marketed for people with depression, anxiety, PTSD or marital problems.

Why use an online therapy app?

Manufacturers of such applications highlight their ease and convenience. You no longer have to book an appointment with an actual shrink to get therapy, particularly if you live in rural and remote areas, or in an area with very few professionals in practice. The apps are especially helpful for people who are unable to seek professional help due to other reasons such as shyness or fear of stigma. Another advantage is that therapy is affordable, as users get to cut off on therapy costs, travel costs and associated expenses. Other than easy user interfaces, with simple designs, some applications have very beneficial features such as mood trackers. Trackers which detect users’ mood, and provide detailed logs of emotional states aid in more accurate diagnosis and behavior prediction.

Should you replace your therapist with an app?

Concerns about the effectiveness of online therapy apps have been raised by mental health professionals, especially due to the fact that there seems to be a shortage of supporting studies. According to experts, for therapy to be effective, it ought to be founded on a deep and meaningful human connection maintained over time. From a Rogerian perspective, empathy, unconditional positive regard and genuineness are essential for therapy to be successful. Besides, therapy is not, and cannot be a one size fits all affair. In light of these arguments, the validity of these applications is called into question.

There have also been concerns that some of these apps could be harmful, as there are no measures to ensure therapy offered is professional or appropriate. In addition, users’ security and privacy could be compromised. It is well-known that most apps store user data, which is sometimes made available to or sold to third parties. Despite the fact that therapy is often a sensitive matter, some apps lack measures to ensure the privacy of users.

How do you know which app is good for you?

It should be noted that not all applications are intended to supplement therapist contact, as some are designed to connect people in need with licensed mental health professionals or to offer supplementary exercises. A good app will not claim to substitute professional help in either diagnosis, assessment or treatment. It is also crucial to ensure that there is a comprehensive statement on confidentiality and data use. Make sure you understand what data is stored, and how it will be used. Some applications offer anonymity which means that your identity will be protected when using the app, and which is a bonus! Finally, if your therapist can endorse the app, the better!

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Success Coach, Business Development Consultant, Strategist,Blogger, Traveller, Motivational Writer & Speaker