Online therapy in the UK (such as online counselling, online psychotherapy and online CBT) has grown in popularity following the increased difficulty of accessing face-to-face services during the COVID pandemic.
As a therapist providing online therapy to clients in the UK (and beyond), I thought it would be helpful to pull together some resources about the topic.
Prior to the pandemic, a lot of professionals would suggest that online therapy wasn’t ‘real’ therapy because the therapist and client couldn’t be in the same room at the same time. They felt that without the in-person connection, and all the things that offers (the ability to see each other’s body language, the opportunity to be in a space that is away from everything else, and so on), it would be difficult to have a meaningful interaction. Clearly, this has been the way therapy has been conducted for the past 100 or so years, since Freud had people lie down on his couch a few times a week.
Yet, this also pointed to a lack of change within the profession. Whilst more and more people were finding homes, cars, clothes, relationships, hook-ups, news, healthcare, and all sorts of other things online, very few therapists were embracing digital work. There were, of course, lots of new considerations – security, privacy, encryption and accessibility. Yet, perhaps, these were used as excuses to avoid change rather than challenges to tackle to embrace change.
If the pandemic has taught us anything about the sudden adoption of home working, it’s that systems can change rapidly. And changes in attitudes towards making services more accessible and available are possible.
Online Therapy UK availability
There are more therapists than ever before providing their services online. In fact, the choice of therapists working online may be quite overwhelming for clients.
No longer do you need to pick someone who is based close to your home, workplace, or other convenient location. Now a client in Cornwall can connect with a therapist in Aberdeen. Therapists, like myself, can work from France, with clients all across the UK.
Online Therapy UK Resources
BACP (British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy)
The BACP (a UK professional body for counsellors and psychotherapists) have produced a couple of resources about online working. Though they are largely aimed at the practitioner, they are helpful for clients who want to understand more about the ways in which practitioners are advised to approach their digital work.
- BACP Working Online Factsheet
- Online and Phone Therapy Competence Framework (accessible only to BACP members)
- About online and phone therapy
BPS (British Psychological Society)
The BPS oversees professional standards for Psychologists in the UK.
- BPS guidelines for working online with children or young people (PDF)
- Effective therapy via video (PDF)
- Ethics guidelines for internet-mediated research
ACTO (Association for Counselling and Therapy Online)
The ACTO are entirely focused on being a membership body for therapists working online. They expect professional to already have membership of a professional body (such as the BACP or BPS) in order to join and most of their resources are for professionals. However it is possible to use their therapist search tool to find a counsellor or psychotherapist who offers online therapy – and has received some formal training in this field.
Online Therapy UK Apps
Accessing digital therapy isn’t limited to speaking with mental health professional. There are also apps, some developed in the UK, that can provide CBT exercises, mindfulness programmes or other forms of support that you can access at a time that suits you.
- Calm Harm – an app for self-harm awareness and management
- Headspace – a very well known meditation app
Online Therapy Worldwide Resource
Internet therapy isn’t just limited to the UK. Standards and approaches are being developed across the globe. Come back to this article at some point in the future to see some more worldwide resources for digital therapy.