Executive Psychotherapy by WhatsApp or Skype
Executive Psychotherapy by WhatsApp or Skype
Having been providing psychotherapy for executives for many years, I asked myself this question? How does Executive Psychotherapy by WhatsApp or Skype compare to face-to-face therapy?
To make any meaningful comparison it is necessary to first bring to mind the key factors. Top level psychotherapy, as with any form of therapy, requires advanced listening skills. Listening at its most advanced is conducted actively with the brain, the eyes and the ears. We also listen with our chemo-receptors, and that may be the subject of an advanced version of this article.
Our ears determine what raw air vibration we pick up, and the brain processes that input. Of course, you knew that. You also know that a huge amount of tonal information is conveyed along with the meaning in the words. Here is where a real difference emerges between face-to-face and video therapy.
All recording and play back equipment filters out sound and distorts frequencies at multiple points:
- During recording (via the microphone- the perfect microphone has yet to be invented – don’t hold your breath; the technical difficulties are enormous).
- During electronic codification of what the microphone pics up
- During transmission
- During de-codification (turning the electronic signal back in to movement)
- During speaker vibration (no speaker is perfect)
What does that technical jargon mean? That much of the tonal information being conveyed (intentionally, and unintentionally) is never received.
For instance, the vocal tones that convey subtle doubt in a given answer are hard enough to detect face-to-face with perfect hearing. If those tonal changes are filtered out by video over internet technical processes, the implications can be huge. Experienced psychotherapists will know the biggest predictor of successful outcomes is the quality of the therapeutic relationship.
Your therapist absolutely must be able to detect how well the relationship is going. Since your therapist cannot rely on tonal communication, during video therapy, they have to be more overt in monitoring your emotional responses.
Exactly the same technical problems apply to the video component of online executive psychotherapy. In fact, the problems are worse visually. Much more of the visual information that would have been available face-to-face is filtered out.
To start with, your therapist can only see your head and shoulders. Most people use their hands to make or enhance their communications. You know how much communication comes from the hands. That is gone in video therapy.
What is the key point? Video over internet filters out huge amount of valuable information that enables a skilled psychotherapist to do their job well.
That is not to say that Executive Psychotherapy by WhatsApp or SkypeSkype or WhatsApp does not work. It can. It does. It has. It will continue to work, IF both you and your therapist take certain steps.
Specifically, here are the most important steps to take. Be aware that your therapist is not getting as much information as you are sending, and that less of what your therapist communicates is received by you. If you both share that awareness, and you both ask questions to fill in the missing information, therapy by video can work.
Here is a practical example of a similar communication impaired situation. Driving in car creates a background noise of around 65db. People with an understanding of communication will alter their voice pitch and volume to be heard in that environment. Indeed, in every environment they alter their communication behaviour to ensure effective communication.
The most advanced communicators can use WhatsApp or Skype for effective psychotherapy. Here is the rub: as with drivers, 95% think their driving is above average, 95% of people think their communication skills are above average. Clearly that is not so.
When to use Executive Psychotherapy by WhatsApp or Skype
Use WhatsApp or Skype for executive psychotherapy, if your communication skills are highly advanced, and if you are aware of the communication that is filtered out by dint of the technical processes involved, and if you know what to do to overcome the filtering effect.
When NOT to use Executive Psychotherapy by WhatsApp or Skype
If the issues are complex, if the issues are subtle, if your feelings are nuanced, or if your communication skills are not absolutely excellent, it is best not have Executive Psychotherapy by WhatsApp or Skype.
Time and cost factors
If you are suitable for Executive Psychotherapy by WhatsApp or Skype you can save a huge amount of time and money compared to face-to-face therapy.
Firstly, you do not have to travel. That means zero travel time and zero travel costs. Which of course means that you can solve your problem for lower costs than via face-to-face therapy.
Secondly, you can hire the best executive psychotherapists in the world, wherever they or you have chosen to live.
It should go without saying that you will want to check that everything is working before your scheduled WhatsApp or Skype or video therapy session. Test the sound. Check the camera is showing you on screen. Check the lighting. Make sure everything you need is to hand. If you need to discuss any documents or use any illustrations make sure you use a video service that can show them, or have sent them before, or if they are simple illustrations, you can hold them up to the camera (that cannot work with complex images or written documents).
Executive psychotherapy works, and works well if you have great advanced communication skills, and, you adapt those skills to the benefits and limitations of the medium.
If you want to discuss your challenge, and explore Executive Psychotherapy by WhatsApp or Skype you can contact Dr Nigel MacLennan by calling