Qualitative Investigation into Therapists' Experiences of Online Therapy: Implications for Working Clients.
Online therapy has increasingly been utilised during the COVID-19 pandemic by many, including working populations. However, few qualitative studies have explored how online therapy is experienced in practice and discussed its implications for those working clients. Semi-structured interviews attended by nine integrative psychotherapists practising in California, the United States, were conducted. Thematic analysis of the transcripts identified three themes: (i) 'Positive experiences of online therapy', (ii) 'Challenges experienced by therapists and clients in online therapy', and (iii) 'Preparation and training for online therapy'. Online therapy was assessed as being helpful, particularly in terms of mitigating against previous geographical and temporal barriers to uptake. However, due to technological disruptions and potential blurring of professional boundaries, online therapy may detract from the emotional salience of therapy, negatively impacting the therapeutic relationship and containment. Considering these positive experiences, participants expected that the demand for online therapy would continue to increase. Particularly in the occupational context, online therapy can offer interventions without fostering shame regarding mental health. The findings provide preliminary qualitative evidence that online therapy can be a useful adjunct to traditional forms of face-to-face therapy. However, therapists require more explicit training in implementing online therapy. Results are discussed in particular regarding the utility of this therapy for working clients.