Is online-based counselling just trendy or actually helpful?


What I learned from my first ever video therapy session

Video therapy is an innovative form of counselling that provides services in the comfort of your own home.

TranQool is a Toronto-based company that offers online-based therapy in the privacy of your home. According to the Financial Post, co-founder Chakameh Shafii — an engineering graduate from the University of Toronto —  started the company after struggling with anxiety herself and finding relief through therapy. Following the suicides at the University of Guelph last year, TranQool donated 45 free therapy sessions to Guelph students.

TranQool aims to break through the various barriers that are associated with therapy, including affordability, stigma, and accessibility.

The platform uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on patients’ awareness of their negative thinking habits and aims to guide them through long-term solutions.

Steps to using TranQool

  1. The first step to using TranQool was to sign up for a free account and then customize my profile.
  2. Based on my survey outcome, I was matched with three therapists who were best suited to me; I then chose one.
  3. After that, I was able to book a session; the session was 45 minutes long and cost $80.

When I first heard about online-based therapy, I was skeptical. Suffering from anxiety myself and seeking guidance from face-to-face sessions, I wondered if an online session would provide a similar quality of therapy. I had never heard of online therapy before and had absolutely no idea how it worked.

For my first online session, I was extremely nervous. I had no idea what to expect and was tempted to back out at the last minute. If you feel this way, just know it’s completely normal to feel nervous and doubtful.

As I waited for the therapist to join the session, I worried if the encounter might be awkward, have glitches, or feel uncomfortable.

When I finally saw the face on the other side of the screen and our session began, I felt relieved as my counsellor smiled and introduced herself. My counsellor was very kind, at ease, and explained that online-based therapy works no differently than face-to-face therapy.

Overall, the session was wonderful. My counsellor listened compassionately, asked questions, wrote notes, and offered a handful of tools to help me work through and manage my anxiety.

The tools provided offered several options:

  • Books to read
  • Apps to use for meditation
  • Calming exercises to practice each day

I was grateful for all of the resources I gained from my first session and felt relieved to have found a therapist I felt comfortable with so easily.

Other than a small glitch in the connection, which I quickly resolved by reconnecting to the session, the quality was great.

If you are able to find a quiet area for an hour, the session feels much more private and intimate, similar to how a face-to-face session feels.

“One of the concerns that people have is the quality of our therapists,” said Shafii in an interview with The Star. “These are people who have years of experience and they’re doing this because they actually care about increasing accessibility to therapy,” Shafii added.

TranQool checks that their psychologists’ and social workers’ licenses have never been suspended due to criminal offences, interviews them over the phone, and then speaks with them over video chat. All therapists must be licensed with the College of Social Workers, as well as have academic and working experience in CBT, reads an article from the Financial Post.

Online therapy may not be suitable for everyone, and there may be other options more fitting to your circumstances; there are less expensive face-to-face services available to Guelph students and residents. There is no reason to feel ashamed of looking into different options when seeking help, as it is one of the very first steps in changing your life for the better.

Photo by Mariah Bridgeman/The Ontarion.