If I ask you to visualise a therapy session, what do you instantly see?
Maybe a Freudian-like figure rubbing his beard in his dusty room, answering questions with endless strings of questions, surrounded by his collection of untouched, old books? You're not the only one.
Despite the fact that therapy has moved on in so many ways since Freud and his contemporaries invented talking therapies more than a century ago, it seems many of our preconceptions about what therapy is, how it works and what it can achieve are outdated.
But for those of us working to help clients from all walks of life make long-lasting changes everyday, these more traditional models have been rapidly shifting due to recent advancements in technology.
I believe it's now time to further leverage technology to change the face of therapy on a wider scale and bring therapy well and truly into the digital age. Because although there have been some interesting applications of tele-therapy and video-therapy, only recently has technology like Skype become reliable enough to really mimic face-to-face interactions.
Not only that, but only recently has Skype become second nature to many of us. We now use it to conduct job interviews, catch up with colleagues everyday, teach people across the globe and just connect with friends and family who live far away.
It's this blend of advanced tech and changing attitudes towards interacting via a computer screen that means it's the perfect time to use Skype to bring therapy to those who need it most in a way that's just as powerful and transformative as meeting people face-to-face.
Working as a therapist for the past seven years, I've recently noticed the huge benefits of using Skype to enable my clients to undergo rapid change from the comfort of their own homes or offices on a flexible schedule that suits their lifestyles the best.
So today I'm sharing the top five reasons why I believe Skype is the future of delivering rapid and dynamic change to everyone who needs it.
1. It takes place in real-time. This means you can contact a therapist and get booked in for a session much quicker than you could with a more traditional therapy practice set-up, which are often notorious for leaving clients waiting weeks or even months for an appointment.
This means that responses and reactive treatments can also be quicker than ever before. As a Skype therapist, it's exciting for me to be able to catch my clients during moments of high emotional arousal.
Let's say for instance, if a client feels a panic attack is imminent (or actually happening). They can contact me in real-time and receive support within minutes or hours. This enables me to provide them with the tools and strategies they need to navigate back to neutral. Rather than a more traditional approach, which would mean suffering through problems and then speaking about emotions and feelings retrospectively when you finally get to see your therapist for a session.
2. It's location non-specific. This means that it doesn't matter where in the country or even the world you are. I have found that it's often those who live in rural or hard to reach areas, or expats living in new countries, who need help the most as they can often feel lonely, isolated and in need of support.
I love that as a Skype therapist my clients no longer have to sit in traffic, take time off work or travel into a busy city centre in order to get access to high quality treatments. Skype therapy is accessible to everyone, whether you can't leave your home in rural Scotland or can't leave your desk in Oxford Circus.
Nothing makes me happier than to start session three with a client who's sitting in their PJs in their living room with their first cup of coffee of the morning. It's an easy and blissful way to interact.
3. It's easy thanks to improvements in connectivity. Over the past few years, Skype has been used to teach people across the globe, connect colleagues daily and speak to friends and loved ones around the planet. For remote communication it's become the norm. So, why not for therapy - therapy without the travel.
Advances in connectivity mean sessions are carried out without interruptions and drop outs, so it's easy to build authentic, real world connections with my clients without the hassle.
As well as actively using techniques from CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), REBT (Rational Emotive Behavioural Therapy), the principles of positive psychology and emotional coaching, as a Skype therapist I've even successfully done meditation sessions and live hypnotherapy sessions via Skype with clients and they experience the same power of rapid dynamic change that they would if we were in the same room.
4. It's comfortable and convenient. This form of therapy is an effective gateway for those who may never have looked for assistance outside of themselves or feel trapped by their current situation. For example, if someone has a fear of travel or agoraphobia.
I've also found that this style of therapy appeals to "busy" workaholics who tell me they'd love to come and see me, but feel they're too chained to their jobs and work commitments or need a therapy session while they're on a business trip.
The flexibility of Skype therapy means you can talk about your issues from the comfort of your home before bed or the office between deadlines.
5. It's proven to work. I've worked with thousands of clients face-to-face over the past seven years and my transition into offering my unique brand of therapy at My Skype Therapy has been so powerful.
My clients get more of my time, they get access to treatments when they need it and where they need it. And they don't have to worry about travel, taking time off work or making big changes to their lifestyles.
At times, people experience anxiety or negative anticipation towards their therapy sessions. By the time they reach my office, they can feel a lot of unnecessary nerves and tension. Disarming and breaking through this tension is a requirement before any real therapy can be performed. Fascinatingly, over Skype many people don't experience the same level of nerves because they're in familiar surroundings. This means we can get to work quicker and my clients can experience a shift within the first session.
So for many it's the difference between choosing therapy or not seeking help. It's a gateway into treatments and interventions that otherwise wouldn't be convenient or accessible or even remotely possible for some people. This means that for many people it's truly life-changing, because top quality, effective therapeutic interventions are now available to anyone on the planet. They're only a click away.