The private Schoen Clinic, which has branches in Britain and Germany, offers a program dubbed “MindDoc” for online therapy. Since early December, this therapy platform, which requires an in-person interview to join the program, can be found online.
Bernhard Backes, head of MindDoc says that patients can seek remote treatment for depression, eating disorders or burnout, through videochats and text messages, from their own homes, and they are also assigned behavioral therapy exercises.
According to Iris Hauth, an executive committee member at the German Society for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Psychosomatics and Neurology, the risks of a misdiagnosis are comparable to those in face-to-face therapy sessions.
She says: “The main thing is for psychotherapy to be based on a careful on-site diagnosis.”
Hauth mentions accessibility as the main advantage of online programs, and she points out that the effectiveness of such therapies has already been proved by several studies, reported the German news agency.
"When the closest therapist is too far, that will simply not be feasible for most people," Hauth adds. In rural areas, online therapy can be a particularly good supplement. Patients who spend a good portion of their time abroad can also profit from such flexibility.
MindDoc is not the first online therapy platform. Another platform known as “Selfapy” was launched two years ago. It has about 20 psychologists available on its platform and allows patients to communicate with their therapists from the comfort of their homes, via webcams and online chats.
The German Union of Psychotherapists is wary of online approaches, however, among others for lack a proper legal framework.
Online therapy may sometimes be a useful supplement, but it can never replace on-site sessions, the association stresses.