Videotherapy 101

Julie Sabine is the CMO of Inkblot, Canada’s top online mental health platform with hundreds of counsellors serving thousands of Canadians. She has been an integral part of the team since inception, providing marketing expertise in the context of mental health. Julie is passionate about revolutionizing mental health care and uses her psychology and psychotherapy background to address the unique and evolving needs of Canadians.

She has the knowledge and experience to be sensitive to, yet innovative around, the stigmas and issues that surround mental health and has focused her career on helping others through counselling and communications. Julie has a Bachelor degree specializing in Psychology from McGill University and a Master degree specializing in Counselling from the Australian College of Applied Psychology.

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It’s no secret that mental health issues are on the rise, with 1 in 5 Canadians suffering from mental health issues and only one third getting the help they need. There is a significant gap in mental health resources across the country. Waitlists are too long and the barriers to getting help, such as stigma, cost, time and finding the right therapist, are often too difficult for us to navigate, especially when we’re struggling. And while many argue that social media and other technologies have contributed to this mental health crisis in recent years, there is also something to be gained from the online world, namely, video therapy. This new approach is pushing to the forefront of mental healthcare in Canada and is proving to be a major game-changer.



What is Psychotherapy?


Psychotherapy, also known as counselling and talk therapy, helps people improve and maintain their mental health and well-being by speaking with a qualified, unbiased professional in a safe space. Individuals usually seek psychotherapy when they have thoughts, feelings, moods and behaviours that are adversely affecting their day-to-day lives, relationships and the ability to enjoy life.


We often use the terms psychotherapy and counselling interchangeably, however, historically there has been a slight difference. Counselling tends to be wellness oriented, providing increased insight and learning how to effectively manage our emotions, overcome problems and deal with life’s inevitable stresses and transitions. It is usually shorter term than psychotherapy and improves emotional and intellectual intelligence.


Psychotherapy is often treatment-based in response to a diagnosable mental health issue such as depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc. It is often in-depth and used in conjunction with medication, but not necessarily. Overall, for depression, anxiety and other mood disorders, the strength of psychotherapeutic effects is similar or superior to what is typically found with the pharmacological treatment of these disorders.  Because medication can have adverse side-effects, many clinical practice guidelines recommend therapy as the first treatment option. Depending on the nature and severity of the issue, a combination of psychotherapy and medication may be beneficial. Left untreated, these issues only get worse.



Who Provides Psychotherapy?


It can be complicated to navigate the mental healthcare landscape in Canada, yet it’s important to know who does what when you are looking for therapy in order to ensure quality of care and the right fit.


Psychiatrists are the only mental healthcare providers that are covered by the public healthcare system and can prescribe medication. Unfortunately, it can take up to 12 months to see a psychiatrist and, even then, they do not necessarily provide psychotherapy. They can be a gateway to public programs including psychotherapy, however, it’s very difficult to access these services. Some GP’s and RPN’s practice psychotherapy but they can be hard to find and they usually only provide brief support due to the nature of their other jobs. As such, psychotherapy is mainly privatized and comes at a cost. The good news is, it is covered by private health insurance and workplace mental health benefits keep improving.


Psychotherapists and counsellors are specifically trained to use talk therapy to help individuals, couples and families work through, treat or prevent emotional, behavioural and cognitive issues. They are members of their provincial colleges that require the equivalent of a Masters degree in counselling and specific clinical and supervision hours. Similarly, Social Workers provide talk therapy and are members of their corresponding provincial colleges, however, they are more attuned to individuals and their environment and some provide social services in hospitals and agencies. Finally, Psychologists have a PhD in psychology and are able to assess and diagnose mental health issues. They are also provincially regulated, with some performing talk therapy and others focusing on research.



What is Videotherapy?


Videotherapy is psychotherapy delivered by a qualified professional via video. Much like facetime, however, completely confidential with encrypted security. Video therapy has been found to be as effective in improving mental health and reducing symptoms as traditional therapy delivered face-to-face. Evidence is particularly strong that anxiety, stress and depression can result in client satisfaction with both the therapy and the quality of their relationship with the therapist that is similar to or above levels of satisfaction with face-to-face therapy.


It is important to note that counselling is a personal experience, and one treatment can’t fit everyone’s needs. Some people may find a screen distracting and in-person communication more comforting, while others may not even notice, or find it easier to express themselves with some separation from the counsellor. The comfort and convenience of connecting with a therapist from your own home or a quiet space at work are also unique to video counselling. Other non-therapeutic benefits to videotherapy include lower cost, saving time and access to specialized counsellors who may not be available otherwise.



How do I access videotherapy and find the right therapist?


Traditionally when seeking a counsellor, we were forced to sign up with whoever was recommended to us by our doctor, we chose from a few different options in our community, or perhaps there was someone recommended by a close friend. This may have worked out perfectly well for some however, more times than not, the counsellor who was available was not the best-suited counsellor for our unique needs.


Sometimes on paper, a counsellor seems like a perfect fit, but for whatever reason, the connection just isn’t there. We shouldn’t have to settle for someone that doesn’t feel right.


Making the Connection with Inkblot

Inkblot is Canada’s top online mental health platform with hundreds of counsellors serving thousands of Canadians. With Inkblot’s video counselling, you are in the unique position of being able to choose from a selection of counsellors that are matched specifically to your needs and preferences, rather than geographic proximity. From language and religious preferences, to specializations and methodology, you have the opportunity to curate your match from counsellors located all across Canada, and browse through the options to find the right fit.



What can I Expect from Inkblot’s Videotherapy and How Will it Help Me?


At the beginning of a session, a counsellor typically invites you to share what’s been going on in your life, what’s on your mind, what’s bothering you, or what you’d like to discuss. The therapist is trained to listen to you and understand you without bias or judgement, with the goal of helping you optimize your mental health. This is your opportunity to be open and honest and say exactly what you think and feel. The conversation will be strictly confidential. Every counsellor and every client is different, however, sessions are generally used to gain awareness and insight to solve problems that get in the way of you living your most effective life.


How Do You Know if It’s Working?

Positive changes in your attitude and lifestyle, both in your personally and professionally, will tell you that videotherapy is working. Your symptoms will decrease and you will start accomplishing your goals. It’s important to note that at times you will uncover thoughts and emotions that make you feel worse, however, this is part of the process and will lead to greater self-awareness and progress.

Cherry Rose Tan