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Aug 07, 2013 08:26 AM EDT

Online Therapy More Effective than Face-To-Face Sessions, Study

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Online psychotherapy is considered to be more beneficial than conventional face-to-face therapy, according to a study conducted by the researchers at the University of Zurich.

The study claims that online therapy sessions have become increasingly popular in recent years hence questioning the effectiveness of traditional therapy sessions. Several counselling sites such as Breakthrough.com and California Live Visit, have surfaced in the recent past that has a network of therapists who use instant messages, emails and video chats to help their patients.

Researchers arrived at the conclusion after asking six therapists to treat 62 patients, the majority of whom were suffering from moderate depression. The patients were equally divided into two groups.

One group received therapy sessions online - through email or instant messenger while the other group underwent a face-to-face therapy. Both groups were part of eight sessions consisting of cognitive therapy techniques.

"In both groups, the depression values fell significantly," said Professor Andreas Maercker.

At the end of the treatment, 53 percent of the online therapy session patients were no longer suffering from depression when compared to the 50 percent people who took face-to-face therapy. Also during follow-up sessions, researchers observed high recovery rate among those treated online than the patients who met counselors in person.

At the end of the follow-up session, 57 per cent of patients from online treatment were depression free, in comparison to 42 per cent with traditional therapy.

'In the medium term, online psychotherapy yields even better results. Our study is evidence that psychotherapeutic services on the internet are an effective supplement to therapeutic care,' Maercker said.

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